Founding Our Mission & Vision
Our story begins in January 1996, when leaders from the community joined together to create the framework that would become Summit Education Initiative (SEI). The founding mission was developed to engage and mobilize, in an innovative manner, a broad base of people and resources to significantly improve education for all children in Summit County. SEI has continued to evolve to reflect the educational needs of children and the community.
In spring 2006, at SEI’s invitation, more than 50 leaders from across the community participated in conversations about SEI’s direction. This led to updating SEI’s mission and vision, as well as more clearly defining SEI’s role.
Click on the image below to watch our video, “Helping Summit County Become a Better Place to Live, Work and Play,” which explains SEI’s work in the community.
Defining events shape an organization. Click on each heading below to learn about events that illustrate the commitment of SEI and its partners to improving education across Summit County.
- 2011 – Present | Growth
- With a new strategic plan, an expanded, representative and re-purposed Board, and a new level of energy, SEI was poised to re-emerge after nearly 18 months of latency. The financial condition of SEI was solid, including excellent accounting and clean audits. It was time to forge a new path as a Cradle to Career collective impact organization – with a broad base of community partners – by using data and informed research to validate intervention strategies. SEI adopted a Cradle to Career “arrow,” which highlighted critical transition points in a child’s education and the importance of many “out of school” activities and programs that could positively impact academic growth. SEI changed the conversation from “minimal proficiency” to “college and career ready.” The organization supplied the community and schools with compelling predictive models, which helped caring adults intervene with students long before there were negative outcomes. In other words, we are moving from predictive to prescriptive use of data. We want students to start school with chances, not consequences; graduate with choices, not consequences; and to have a plan to be employed, enrolled or enlisted upon graduation. Every year SEI grows in its approach and impact. There are six strategy teams working to design and implement strategies to improve student performance. SEI reports the educational attainment levels at its annual meeting each October. Every year the data reported become more descriptive and the results of the work become more encouraging. SEI recently assumed a stronger advocacy role in the community and in the state. Specifically, in 2016, SEI held a convening on high school graduation rates and the county’s first School Readiness Summit. The future looks bright for SEI as more schools from outside of Summit County look to SEI for support and services. SEI has begun to offer “fee for service” to select partners outside of the county. Looking ahead to 2017, SEI will consider the expansion to include schools in neighboring counties, which are supported by the Summit Educational Service Center.
- 2009 – 2011 | Transition
- SEI experienced a leadership transition during this time. Two very capable interim executive directors continued to drive the mission of the organization while the Board conducted an extensive, facilitated strategic planning process. The result was a new strategic plan that set a fresh direction for SEI. The new plan necessitated SEI stepping away from running programs and instead investing its resources in systemic improvement. The new plan called for SEI to: 1. Use student achievement data as the basis for SEI’s work; 2. Act as a “backbone organization” by convening stakeholders and partners around a common goal; 3. Activate or “catalyze” effective approaches to improve student outcomes; and 4. Publicly report our community progress and reformat the Board of Directors to include educators.
- 1998 – 2009 | Implementation
- Shortly after the community established SEI’s initial role in Summit County, the organization met with several school districts in the county to develop a clear set of standards for their students. SEI worked with partnering districts to implement these standards, and subsequently, the State of Ohio adopted academic standards for the entire state. During the following decade, SEI participated in numerous discussions and forums with school districts, community partners and other organizations to implement programs benefiting several aspects of a child’s academic career. For example, the 2001 Education Summit initiated the creation of Education Leadership Roundtable, which launched This City Reads!, a community-based effort to promote reading. (This City Reads! still exists today under the leadership of SEI, Akron-Summit County Public Library and The University of Akron Center for Literacy.)