I’m excited. It’s the start of a new year, and the 20th anniversary of our organization, so it’s the perfect time to share some new approaches and a new look for Rodel.
We just launched a refreshed website and made some updates to our logo and name. These changes reflect an evolution of our work that began about two years ago.
For context, let me back up. At Rodel, we constantly assess how we’re doing; we look hard at what’s working and what’s not. We do this in much the same spirit as our innovative founders at Rodel Inc., the garage start-up that ultimately became a global leader in the semiconductor industry more than 50 years ago.
In 2016, we pored through years of Delaware’s student performance data and spoke to thousands of Delawareans. We found plenty of bright spots over the years, including expanded access for thousands of families to high-quality early care, and more high schoolers than ever graduating and going to and through college. But a stark reality became clear: An enormous and growing number of Delaware students—including those learning English, who have special needs, and come from low-income families—were not getting what they needed to thrive in school and life. The data simply told us what we didn’t want to hear. Too often, where a child started in life socioeconomically was predictive of where they would end up. That’s not good for them, it’s not good for Delaware, and it’s simply not fair.
We listened to the community and we heard two things: 1) that we need to broaden our definition of student success; and 2) we need to expand our partnerships to deepen our impact.
We realized our vision for student success was too narrow if we wanted to truly unlock the potential of all of Delaware’s 138,000 students.
It’s why we increased our focus in four areas. Social and emotional learning is about creating safe and creative environments in schools so our kids can feel connected and flourish our integral to academic success. We also know the next generation of our workforce is on the way, so we invested heavily in career pathways and work-based learning so students and young adults have plenty of options for life after high school. Quality early learning can make a profound difference in a young child’s life outcomes, so we put even more attention on improving the early childhood experience for all children through our research and grassroots advocacy. And we are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with many community organizations to take on the major structural barrier of modernizing our antiquated school funding system.
Put another way, we’ve broadened our lens while tightening our focus on equity and excellence.
These evolutionary shifts are reflected in our new vision statement:
Delaware is a global leader in educating each of its students to contribute and thrive.
And while helping Delaware become a global leader in public education remains our ambitious goal, we know today more than ever that we can’t reach it alone. We are listening more and building more partnerships from the bottom-up. We are working with several coalitions and partnerships across a diverse set of issue areas.
We’re also expanding our partnerships with the private sector both here and nationally. By building new, deeper partnerships with the Delaware Community Foundation, the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, and national partners like Bloomberg Philanthropies, we are deepening our community impact.
Our work itself has not changed drastically. We are leaning into what we already do best: aligning community members with good data and leading-edge ideas to address systemic challenges, catalyzing action with strategic resources, and driving those ideas to scale and sustainability through communication and advocacy.
As we embark on this new chapter, we are committed to being even more collaborative, community-minded, and concrete. Our talented team of analysts, advocates, and organizers are energized about the road ahead. We’re about getting results, and we continue to believe in Delaware’s ability to lead the nation.
The new year brings new opportunity. Together, we can partner to transform public education—please join us. Check out our Get Involved page for ideas, and sign up for our emails and contact us. To our partners and collaborators: push us to think differently, share your big ideas. We’re listening. We look forward to working with you to improve the lives of our young people and our communities.