Live from Detroit, it’s NBC’s Education Nation!


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NBC News is coming, and I couldn’t be happier for the children of Detroit.

This weekend, a national news team from NBC’s Education Nation is bringing the lights, cameras and national spotlight to Detroit to talk about local education reform issues. They’re here to focus in on what’s working.

The Skillman Foundation is a local sponsor of the week-long summit, and we’re very excited to be involved. Why? Because this conversation – about real people doing real work and finding real results for kids – is a positive Detroit story, one that we think more people need to hear.

So often, the media, both locally and nationally, focus in on the negatives. But that’s not the full story. We know there is more work to be done so that our children graduate from high school, and become ready for college, career and life. NBC News is interested in telling more of that complete story.

It’s a story that should be shared so other cities can learn from our successes, and so others who care about this work can know where to jump in and add resources to initiatives that have proven successful.

I’m also excited about Education Nation, quite honestly, because it’s recognition of the groundwork – exhausting and painful at times – that Carol Goss and The Skillman Foundation have laid over the past decade. The conversation about education reform in Detroit has shifted dramatically, thanks to Carol, and now rightly centers on what matters for students. Many of our partners in the work – Detroit Public Schools, Michigan Future Schools, the Educational Achievement Authority, Excellent Schools Detroit, Detroit Parent Network, and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, to name a handful – will also be part of the conversation.

Under Carol’s leadership, The Skillman Foundation revamped its education grantmaking away from funding school systems to one that focused on creating successful outcomes for Detroit children. The Foundation’s willingness to take on the status quo, her single-minded focus on student outcomes, and her determination to change the odds for Detroit kids paved the way for the creation of Excellent Schools Detroit, helped bring back to Detroit the highly regarded Teach For America, and spurred Education Trust to open an office in the Detroit region.

The Skillman Foundation’s work to change the conversation about schools also made Detroit a more attractive market for other national funders to get involved here. That’s significant, because the education problem in Detroit requires lots of resources.

I’m so happy about Carol’s legacy, and I’m proud that an esteemed national news team will be in Detroit to explore what’s working in education reform.

Our work, in many ways, is still maturing. But we’re going to keep after it, and keep pushing for change that puts kids first. We believe Detroit is on the cutting edge of American education reform. We’re pleased that NBC will be here to help document that change.

You can livestream the weekend’s events here on our website. Also, follow along on Twitter using hashtag #EducationNation. We’ll be there adding our thoughts to the ongoing dialogue, and we invite you to add yours.

-- Skillman Foundation Chief Operating Officer Tonya Allen will become the Foundation’s sixth president & CEO in January. Follow her on Twitter at @allen_tonya.