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The Data Tells The Story: Cindy Edelman on City Year’s Measurable Results

Supporting education is ultimately about improving student outcomes. At City Year, we believe this happens by focusing on each student’s individual needs and giving them the focused time and resources that will pave the way for success. While focusing on individuals is an important part of the story, comprehensive data must be gathered and reviewed constantly to evaluate impact holistically.

Cindy Edelman, a retired art history teacher and now a dedicated community trustee, has spent decades advocating for data-driven educational reform. Her insights into the role of data in guiding philanthropy and her continued support of City Year highlight how informed initiatives drive meaningful change in our public school system.

The Foundation of Data-Driven Philanthropy

Cindy Edelman’s journey in education reform was born in the classroom but began in earnest after retirement as a trustee at the Community Foundation. Two decades ago, during the Foundation’s 40th year, a comprehensive study on education was undertaken, examining student needs at the local, state, and national levels.

Cindy explained, “That’s really where I learned so much in terms of the needs of students in Jacksonville schools. It was pretty glaring.”

The information was so compelling Cindy realized it was time to take action based on the data.

The Success of City Year

Cindy proudly champions City Year because the impact of our Student Success Coaches in classrooms is demonstrable and measurable. Our success in Jacksonville and throughout the nation exemplifies the power of data-driven initiatives in education.

“It can justify all of its growth from data points,” she noted while praising our program’s rigorous approach to measuring impact.

Through the academic support and mentorship of our Student Success Coaches, City Year schools show improvement in key indicators of student success, including attendance, behavior, and course performance.

According to Cindy, this makes City Year a wise investment for supporters of public education.

Long-Term Vision

“Every child is entitled to a high-quality education,” Cindy asserted, underscoring her belief that key investments now will ensure that fundamental right for years to come.

“It might take 30 years for change to happen,” she continued, emphasizing the need for patience and sustained effort in shrinking the achievement gap. The key is using data to identify programs that work and stay the course. She believes this approach will ultimately ensure “equitable opportunities for all students.”

Addressing Early Literacy

One critical area of focus in Cindy’s work is early literacy. She pointed out a concerning fact: “The majority of third graders in the city don’t read at grade level, and we know that is a statistic that we don’t want.”

Ensuring that children achieve reading proficiency by third grade is a key predictor of their future academic success. City Year’s current efforts in this area address this gap and provide support for students from an early age. Cindy believes this early intervention is crucial, as it sets the foundation for students’ academic journeys.

Broader Impact

Cindy’s insights also shed light on the broader impact of educational initiatives. Increasing focus on foundational knowledge in reading and math in younger students leads directly to improved graduation rates. A diploma is the first step to success in adulthood.

“(Duval County Public Schools) graduation rates are close to 90%,” she noted, a massive win in comparison to recent years. However, new challenges continue to emerge, and sustained efforts are required to address them. Cindy acknowledges the progress but emphasizes that continuous support and adaptation to new challenges are essential for ongoing success.

Looking Ahead

Cindy Edelman’s work as a public trustee and continued support of City Year underscores the critical role of data-driven initiatives and philanthropy in education reform. Her long-term vision and commitment to early literacy and equitable education opportunities highlight how informed, strategic efforts can lead to meaningful change.

Organizations like City Year are making significant strides in supporting public education by focusing on measurable results. As we look to the future, the lessons learned from these efforts provide a roadmap for continued progress and emphasize the importance of investing in our children’s education.

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