The office of Connecticut governor Ned Lamont has announced a $100 million commitment from in support of a public-private partnership aimed at strengthening public education and promoting economic opportunity in the state.
The gift will support efforts to improve opportunities and outcomes in the state's underresourced communities, with a focus on those with both high poverty and a high concentration of youth who are disengaged or disconnected from school. To that end, the partnership hopes to raise a total of $300 million over the next five years — $100 million from the state, matched by the $100 million from Dalio Philanthropies and another $100 million from other philanthropists and business leaders.
In Connecticut, which sits near the bottom of state rankings in terms of income inequality, more than 20 percent of high school students are either disengaged or disconnected from school, and the annual fiscal impact of high school dropouts on the state budget exceeds $900 million. To address these challenges, the partnership plans to support and encourage microfinance and community entrepreneurship initiatives, providing entrepreneurs with small loans, early-stage equity capital, mentorship, and access to networks, and engage nonprofits, high schools, institutions of higher education, and employers in efforts to connect young people to good-paying jobs. Public education and workforce development programs will include a focus on youth development and wraparound programming, as well as programming to help disconnected youth return to school and/or connect to job training opportunities.
The partnership will work with local stakeholders to ensure that community voices and input help shape program design and advance positive outcomes sustainably; adopt practices proven to work; and monitor, measure, and report progress against specific impact objectives. An independent organization likely will be formed to tap into community expertise and administer resources, with representation from Dalio Philanthropies and the state's legislative and executive branches.
"Giving students the education that leads to career and job opportunities is one of the most important responsibilities that we have as a society," said , co-founder and director of Dalio Philanthropies. "When students are given the career and job training opportunities and they can see a path that excites them, they will thrive. Ray and I are thrilled to partner with Governor Lamont and communities to make this vision possible."
"Barbara has for many years been tirelessly working alongside our state's educational and community leaders to help provide our public school system with the support it needs to close the educational opportunity gaps," said , co-founder and president of Dalio Philanthropies. "Equal access to education and job opportunities are required for any system to be fair and productive. Unfortunately, these are now lacking in Connecticut, particularly in poor areas of the state where poverty impedes children's ability to get a quality education and for adults to get jobs. I believe that all members of our Connecticut community should pull together to rectify these intolerable circumstances."
(Photo credit: Dalio Philanthropies)