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December 23, 2019

Education partnership seeks public input, issues request for information

The Partnership for Connecticut, a public-private venture formed to help struggling Connecticut schools, is asking for guidance from teachers, employers and advocates on how to help students and young adults access educational and career opportunities.

The group released a Request for Information Friday to learn more about programs that already exist in the community and needs that are not being met.

“I am excited to enter this new phase of our work where we strive to develop our strategy by listening first to what our communities and our young people see as the most pressing needs and opportunities,” Partnership Board Chair Erik Clemons said in a statement.

The partnership, an enterprise between the state and hedge fund giant Ray Dalio’s philanthropic group, hopes to achieve three goals through the public outreach process: identify communities and organizations currently helping children and young adults graduate high school and get jobs; discover areas in which these communities and organizations need more resources to advance their goals; and identify proven and promising programs that could drive have a positive impact.

“We launched the Partnership with an aspirational vision but left many of the details intentionally open, in order to engage with the communities and organizations we hope to support,” said Clemons.

The survey will not divert funds to any programs or commit the partnership to a specific partnership or collaboration. It will be open until 11:59 on Jan. 24, 2020, after which the group will publish a public report of its key findings.

The partnership plans to invest between $200 million and $300 million over the next five years in programs to help disadvantaged youth who have become disengaged or dropped out of school. The state and Dalio Philanthropies are each putting in $100 million. The partnership hopes to raise an additional $100 million from private donors.

The effort has been criticized for its initial plan to hold all its meetings privately after lawmakers exempted the partnership from the Freedom of Information Act. Attorney General William Tong subsequently issued a written opinion that state officials serving on the partnership board — including Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders from both parties — are not exempt from state disclosure laws.

The board’s second meeting, which took place earlier this week, was open to the public.

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