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Why Travelers Is Investing In Hartford School Reform

Marlene Ibsen

February 01, 2009

In Connecticut, one of the wealthiest states, there exists an academic achievement gap larger than in any other state. Students in the Hartford public schools, the majority of whom live at or below the poverty line, are not competing on the same level with their peers in more affluent communities. To close the gap, the city schools are in the midst of large-scale, systemic change, working to create high-performing, distinctive schools of choice.

Since the reform agenda has been put into action, we have seen improvements in graduation rates, increased post-secondary enrollment and improvements in school performance. Progress has been made, but it is fragile.

Support from the business community is essential to sustain the momentum begun with this expansive transformation and to ensure the attainment of Hartford students in reading, math, science and college readiness.

Thursday, Travelers announced our commitment to Hartford's public education reform and our intention to provide approximately $1 million in corporate and Travelers Foundation grants directly to the reform agenda. Travelers' funding will support initiatives that aggressively reduce the achievement gap and measurably increase academic achievement and career success for underserved students. Through these efforts, Travelers will better address the community and corporate needs for a skilled workforce, sustained economies and better quality of life.

As a company, we develop products and services that mitigate risk. With our refined focus on closing the achievement gap, we intend to mitigate a grave risk to our community: more generations of children denied future opportunities because of that gap. Travelers views this as an opportunity to contribute as a funder and collaborator on one of the most important issues related to our community's ability to thrive.

We believe in the potential of the students in this city and we believe that this collaborative approach will produce meaningful change. We applaud those community organizations and corporations who have already come to the table in support of this important work, and we believe now is the time for an even broader base of leaders from all sectors to join us in our efforts.

These students are our future workforce. The health of our community and our businesses depend on their academic success. We need them to graduate poised to advance in careers that are essential to keeping Hartford a strong center for insurance and financial services. We will all benefit from the ability to recruit from a diverse pool of talented candidates.

Travelers has developed a model of giving specifically to assist the reform efforts. We are supporting organizations and programs that focus on the Hartford public schools' goals to build a sustainable system that can transcend administrations. Additionally, we will work toward convening community stakeholders, including corporate leaders, in collaborative efforts to better leverage investments in the reform.

Travelers does not intend to limit our funding of educational initiatives to the district alone. We are investing in programs offered by nonprofit organizations that target increased academic achievement in middle and high school students; provide opportunities for students to transition from high school to post-secondary educationand initiate leadership development programs for school principals.

We will also continue to support arts and community development organizations, particularly those whose efforts directly benefit the performance of students in the public schools.

The solution to the city's education challenges lies in the leaders of our community coming together with their resources and skills to invest in our students. Together we can create program models that are truly innovative and effective. Together we can create the educational system the students of Hartford deserve.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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