Take 5! Here are five social innovation links we are clicking on today:

  1. The New York Times: Harlem School of the Arts, Once Shuttered and in Debt, Now Dreams Big "Just seven years ago, the school, founded in 1964, was $2 million in debt and temporarily closed. Today, the school has not only recovered, but is pivoting from a place that primarily provided arts education for children to a full-fledged performing arts center. 'We will always be rooted in providing arts training to children. That will never waver,' Mr. Pryor said during a tour of the school, which teaches 4,000 children a year on a $5 million budget."

  2. Brookings: Student Test Engagement and Its Impact on Achievement Gap Estimates "Gaps between boys and girls, as well as white and racial minority students, are often used to measure the effectiveness and fairness of the education system at a given point in time, over the course of decades, and as children progress through school. Major policy initiatives related to accountability, assessment, and funding are partially motivated by a desire to close gaps. As is so often the case, however, estimates of achievement gaps are not as straightforward as practitioners and policymakers might like. Gaps result from the sum total of students’ schooling, after-school activities, home life, and neighborhood experiences. Further, gaps are not measures of intelligence or ability, but of performance. Therefore, observed scores are impacted by factors that adults control (like what students are taught), and by factors that may be unrelated to achievement (like motivation to perform)."

  3. WWLP: Revitalize CDC Sets Out to Rehabilitate Holyoke Neighborhood "More than 100 volunteers – using supplies provided by a $100,000 federal block grant – set out to upgrade homes in Holyoke’s Springdale neighborhood. The Revitalize Community Development Corporation of Springfield successfully rehabbed so many Springfield neighborhood homes, that the organization is now being called upon to apply its experience in Holyoke. Revitalize CDC associate director Ethel Griffin told 22News, 'Revitalize the neighborhood and neighbors begin to know each other, and to really help each other out. This is a very important mission of mine as well.'"

  4. The Hartford Courant: CSCU Leader Proposes Consolidating Community Colleges Into One System "Connecticut’s 12 community colleges would be consolidated into a single college led by a vice chancellor for a savings of $28 million under a plan released Tuesday by the leader of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. That new college, which would be called the Community College of Connecticut, would be the fifth largest community college in the country with 52,761 students. Mark Ojakian, president of the CSCU system, said the plan is 'all about making it easier for our students to stay in school, to complete their education and to ultimately get a job and contribute to the Connecticut economy.'"

  5. Education Week: Expert Advice on Schools Is a New Kind of Employee Perk "Launched two years ago in New Orleans, EdNavigator relies on the private sector as a conduit to employees—many of them lower-wage workers—who could benefit from its services. The nonprofit partners with 16 employers in the city, and its counselors currently work with about 250 parents who've signed up for their support services. The group will expand soon to Boston. 'There's a huge misconception that the reason parents aren't more involved in their child's education is because they don't care; it's that they have to work to make a living, often more than one job, or with inflexible hours to be at school for meetings during the day,' said Timothy Daly, a co-founder of EdNavigator. 'Our goal is to find ways to empower parents amid those demands.'"