2007 Civic Change Award Goes to Open Meadow STEP UP
Since 1997, the Civic Change Award has gone to individuals and organizations that are changing communities and the people who live in them in profound ways. This year the Civic Change Award honors a community based dropout prevention program with tangible results.
“The STEP UP Program epitomizes what communities can do when they come together to support young people. Because of this program, eighth-graders in Portland, Oregon, have a much better chance of getting to the first rung of lifetime success—a high school diploma,” said Dr. Suzanne W. Morse, president of the Pew Partnership. “We think STEP UP is a national model for change.”
Open Meadow STEP UP Program—in Portland, Oregon, embodies all the best elements of a transition program that is making a difference. An after-school and summer program created to help prepare middle-school students for high school, STEP UP is a collaborative program developed in 2003 by Open Meadow Alternative Schools (www.openmeadow.org) to ease the transition to high school and increase the high school graduation rate. Program elements include School Success Mentors, Academic Tutoring, Family Partnerships, Teacher Support, and Life Skill Development. Partners in the program range from the City of Portland’s Children’s Investment Fund to the Comcast Foundation to the Portland Trail Blazers. Students have intensive and one-on-one relationships that allow them to develop a firmer foundation to handle high school academics as well as social pressures. Among the many success statistics one stands out above the rest — of the 351 students who participated in the program in 2005–06, every student remained enrolled in school at the end of the school year.
In her support of STEP UP, Portland Public Schools superintendent (now at the Gates Foundation) Dr. Vicki Phillips said, “This program deserves national attention for its positive effects on student retention and achievement and for its exemplary collaboration with a wide array of community organizations, both public and private.”
STEP UP has developed a public-private collaboration that is using the resources of the community, the talents of organizations, and the support of the school system to give participating students the help they need to be successful in high school and beyond.
In selecting Public Allies for the 2006 Civic Change Award, Pew Partnership President Suzanne Morse said the National Advisory Board was impressed by the all-around benefits associated with the program. “Public Allies not only generates positive outcomes for communities through increased interest and participation, it also yields significant value to its partner organizations.” Positive outcomes attained by nonprofit partners include enhanced and expanded services, increases in the recruitment and management of volunteers, and an increase in sustainable collaboration.
The League of Women Voters
Kay Maxwell, president of the League of Women Voters, accepts the Civic Change Award from Alma Powell (far right), chair of the Pew Partnership’s national board. Nancy Tate, executive director of the League, and Suzanne Morse, president of the Pew Partnership, look on.
In announcing the League of Women Voters as the 2004 recipient of the Civic Change Award, Alma Powell, Pew Partnership’s national advisory board chair, said, “The League of Women Voters has made this country better for more than eight decades. Its voice of wisdom and reason has raised the level of our civic conversations and given future generations the tools to create a better America.”
The League is a non-partisan national leader on raising the visibility of critical issues and the expectation of citizen participation. The “Take Back the System” campaign in the early nineties brought disengaged voters back into the electorate. Its diligence on the National Voter Registration Act created new avenues for voter participation that resulted in tens of thousands of Americans being registered to vote. Dr. Suzanne Morse, president of the Pew Partnership, states, “We can be assured that the League is working diligently to create communities and a nation that works for everybody.”
William Winter’s remarkable contributions to our nation as a pioneer of education reform and a voice of racial reconciliation demonstrate what an individual working for change can accomplish. As Governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984, Mr. Winter triumphed sweeping legislation to improve the state’s beleaguered school system. He chaired the 1986 Commission on the Future of the South and was active in the Appalachian Regional Commission. As a member of the Presidential Advisory Board on Race, Mr. Winter engaged people throughout the nation with his personal testament and enduring passion for creating communities of mutual respect and equal opportunity.
Since leaving elected office, Mr. Winter has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the National Civic League, MDC, Inc., the Pew Partnership, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, the Foundation for the Mid-South, and the National Issues Forum Institute. Mr. Winter is currently a member of the law firm of Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis, P.A. in Jackson, Mississippi. The William Winter Center for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi was recently established in his honor.
Alma Powell has a lifelong commitment to our nation and its citizens. Currently she is chairman of America's Promise-The
Alliance for Youth, vice chair of the Kennedy Center, and chair of the
Pew Partnership for Civic Change. She also served as chairman of the
National Council of the Best Friends Foundation. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an
Honorary Doctor of Letters from Emerson College, the
Leadership Award from the Women's Center of Virginia, and was named
Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine in 1999. She served as the Army liaison to the National Red Cross and was the Advisor to the Red Cross of the Military District of Washington. During her husband’s tenure as Secretary of State, Mrs. Powell served as the honorary president of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide.
In addition to her many service-minded activities, Mrs. Powell has added “author” to her list of credits with the 2003 publications of two children’s books: My Little Wagon and America’s Promise.
Paul J. Aicher founded and was president of Technical Materials, Inc., a firm which develops processes for bonding special metals for the electronics and semi-conductor industries. After the sale of his company in 1982, Mr. Aicher founded the Topsfield Foundation, Inc. (now the Paul J. Aicher Foundation) to support grass-roots projects that would help people connect their life experiences and values to social and political issues. Perhaps the greatest legacy of the foundation and Paul's vision is the
Study Circles Resource Center, a national organization committed to
promoting informed citizen dialogue on critical issues.
Over the years, Mr. Aicher has been active in various community concerns. He acted as a facilitator for the American Foundation for Political Education, a national program underwritten by the Ford Foundation during the 1950’s. Later, when he founded the Berks County World Affairs Council, Mr. Aicher took part in the Great Decisions project of the Foreign Policy Association. Mr. Aicher credits these experiences with instilling in him an enduring interest and faith in deliberative democracy.
John W. Gardner was a leader in many arenas, from government and politics to civil rights, education, and philanthropy. He served in many influential roles: as president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teach; Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare; chairperson of the National Urban Coalition; founding chairman of Common Cause; and founding chairperson of Independent Sector. In 1964, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Mr. Gardner was the architect of the Great Society programs, as Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and counselor to five other presidents. In his remarkable career, he played an instrumental role in a vast array of enterprises, including the White House Fellows Program, public television, enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, the Enterprise Corps and many, many others.