UPTOWN EDUCATION COLLABORATIVE (UEC)
Launched by Total Equity Now in January 2013, the Uptown Education Collaborative (UEC) comprises participating members of Community Education Councils 3, 4, 5 and 6; participating members of the education committees of Community Boards 9, 10, 11 and 12; and UEC convener Total Equity Now, which has long advocated increased public participation in the meetings and events of Uptown community education councils (CECs) and community board (CB) education committees.
Sustained, meaningful cross-neighborhood collaboration is key to meeting the educational needs of Uptown children and families, many of whom frequently cross community-board and community-education-council boundaries to attend school, use libraries, and access other educational services. And yet, before the UEC, no systematic mechanism existed to facilitate consistent education-focused information sharing and collaboration between and among Uptown community education councils, community board education committees, and other education stakeholders around the shared educational challenges and opportunities of Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. Often, a CEC or CB education committee would develop a promising initiative, strategy, tool, or knowledge base that it then applied only in its immediate catchment; meanwhile, the children, families, and schools a few blocks away, officially residents of another CEC or CB’s catchment (or children and families from its own catchment who were accessing educational services nearby), did not benefit from that good work.
Through the UEC, delegates now gather periodically to share timely information, strategies and tools in order to save time and advance each body’s efforts to enhance educational and youth-development services for families in its catchment and, consequently, across Uptown.
History and Current Projects
In May 2013, following several months of exploratory meetings and a needs assessment, Uptown Education Collaborative participants convened for an Uptown Education Summit to analyze the root causes of and generate potential solutions to shared concerns. The first project identified for immediate collaboration was the creation of an “Uptown Education Navigator,” a user-friendly guide to help Uptown parents, students, and other community members understand the organization and functions of the various New York City Department of Education (DOE) offices, the roles of other decision-making bodies that interface with the DOE (e.g., CECs and CBs, PTAs, Presidents Councils, District Leadership Teams, School Networks), and how to participate in the related processes that shape our educational landscape. In June 2013, the Uptown Education Collaborative its first annual Uptown Education Forum in order to present to the broader public and solicit additional input on the UEC’s objectives and initial projects.
The Uptown Education Collaborative is currently working to complete the first-ever Uptown Education Navigator, which will be free and available online.