Newark Trust for Education Unveils Powerful Online Tool to Map External Investments in Newark Schools

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The Newark Trust for Education Unveils Online Tool that Will Provide Detailed Information About External Investments in Newark’s Public District and Charter Schools

The Newark Trust for Education today unveiled a powerful new online tool designed to give funders, school leaders, parents and program providers detailed information about external investments in Newark’s public district and charter schools.

The Newark Trust’s NET Navigator is a user-friendly online database that allows users to map investments in a variety of ways, including by funding sources, school types, programs, grades and ward.

“With so much attention on and resources being invested in schools in Newark, it is critical to have some sense of who is doing what and where in order to be strategic and effective in our grant-making,” said Ross Danis, president and CEO of the Newark Trust.

“NET Navigator provides information that enables funders, policy makers and community leaders to see where local education investment dollars are coming from, and which programs and organizations these investments are reaching at the school level,” Danis said. “Our goal is to, in time, provide a set of data visualization tools that show the relationships between funder investment and student achievement in Newark.”

The NET Navigator was designed with four stakeholders in mind: funders, school leaders, parents and program providers. The online tool has been a major initiative of the Trust, a local education fund launched in January 2011 to support the alignment and coordination of resources in support of public education reform efforts in Newark.

“If schools are going to maximize the impact of external resources, they first have to know what those external resources are supporting and the impact they are having on student achievement,” said state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. “The NET Navigator illustrates that the Trust understands the need for data to inform strategy to improve outcomes.”

NET Navigator can help funders determine who else is supporting a grantee, identify investment opportunities and identify strategic partners. School Leaders can assess collective impact, identify service gaps and manage external relationships. Parents can assess resources allocations, see their school in relationship to others and match needs and interests to school programs. Program providers can align interventions, identify potential funding sources, and learn from and leverage previous investments.

“The NET Navigator will help school leaders focus their efforts and choose effective interventions to improve student outcomes,” said Newark Public Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson.

To date, NET Navigator has tracked nearly $65 million in investments through 788 grants from 50 grant-makers to 116 schools between 2006 and 2012. Among some of the more interesting finds: program called “Mind Up” funded by actress Goldie Hawn is in 17 schools; almost 70 percent of grants made in 2011 came from 5 foundations; and three out of every four programs in Newark’s schools are initiated by the funder or the provider.

“We don’t claim to have identified every dollar invested or every program operating in Newark schools,” Danis said. “The data collection process will be continuous and new information will be gathered for NET Navigator every day.”

The Newark Trust has created a “Wiki” like system allowing stakeholders to enter data that will be checked before it is included in NET Navigator.

“The NET Navigator is a game changer,” said Shane Harris, the chair of the Newark Trust. “It needs more tweaks, more data and some enhancements. All that will come with more time and funding. But right now, NET Navigator provides more information than has ever been available to assist in crafting clear, strategic and effective interventions to improve student achievement in public schools in Newark.”

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Thiago Viana
Jaffe Communications
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