We believe in a simple idea: that the people must be in charge of their own change.

Vision

We envision a place where public policy decisions are inclusive, transparent, and community-aligned; where all residents, regardless of race or economic status, are given equal access to excellent education; where schools serve students in environments that affirm their self-concepts, draw on the strengths of local culture, and engage their family units fully and respectfully.

Mission

OPEN ensures an informed and engaged community that exercises influence on 0-12 public education policy and practice.

COMMUNITY

Access the tools to create community-driven education policy.

EDUCATION

Self-advocate with trainings, professional development, data, and research analysis

POLICY

Make your vision for excellent public education a reality through policy, advocacy, power-building, and program incubation.

“Many organizations seem to want me to participate just so they get more support for whatever their position is. They might ask for our opinions, but really, there’s something they want you to think going in. With OPEN, there are no allegiances. I’m not limited. They give people a chance to really use their minds. To work together, because wisdom comes from the many.”
2016-12-04T19:32:48+00:00
“Many organizations seem to want me to participate just so they get more support for whatever their position is. They might ask for our opinions, but really, there’s something they want you to think going in. With OPEN, there are no allegiances. I’m not limited. They give people a chance to really use their minds. To work together, because wisdom comes from the many.”
“Right now in the city there’s a feeling of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. With OPEN there’s a unique sense of, ‘We’re trying to figure this out together.’”
2016-12-04T19:33:14+00:00
“Right now in the city there’s a feeling of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. With OPEN there’s a unique sense of, ‘We’re trying to figure this out together.’”
“It took that disaster [Hurricane Katrina] to politicize people. But now we’ve got people lining up on opposite sides. And it’s good to have organizations like OPEN, because they kind of act as the middle man to create space for both sides. I grew up a certain way and I was biased, making arguments that were fixated on one side. With OPEN you have to develop empathy, which gets you to see new points of view.”
2016-12-04T19:34:12+00:00
“It took that disaster [Hurricane Katrina] to politicize people. But now we’ve got people lining up on opposite sides. And it’s good to have organizations like OPEN, because they kind of act as the middle man to create space for both sides. I grew up a certain way and I was biased, making arguments that were fixated on one side. With OPEN you have to develop empathy, which gets you to see new points of view.”
“Frankly, I was thrilled when the state took over the schools. I’m probably one of five people to say that, but I was… and I was amazed that my perspective was not universally held. Sometimes by people I really respected. Through my work with OPEN, I have worked hard to find people who disagreed with me, to develop a more nuanced view of the situation, and to understand other people’s positions.”
2016-12-04T19:35:17+00:00
“Frankly, I was thrilled when the state took over the schools. I’m probably one of five people to say that, but I was… and I was amazed that my perspective was not universally held. Sometimes by people I really respected. Through my work with OPEN, I have worked hard to find people who disagreed with me, to develop a more nuanced view of the situation, and to understand other people’s positions.”
"If you looked at the timing of the thing, you saw when the "community input" meetings were, and then when the plan came out — when did our input get integrated? Overnight?"
2016-12-04T19:35:52+00:00
"If you looked at the timing of the thing, you saw when the "community input" meetings were, and then when the plan came out — when did our input get integrated? Overnight?"

OPEN'S LEADERSHIP

ORGANIZATIONAL STAFF

NAHLIAH WEBBER
Executive Director
ZAKENYA P. NEELY
Vice-President of Partnerships & Programs
JULIA RAMSEY
Communications & Marketing Manager

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

MR. FLOZELL DANIELS, JR., Chairman
President & CEO, Foundation for Louisiana
MR. ROBERT REILY,
Vice-Chairman
The Reily Foundation
MS. THELMA FRENCH, Secretary
President & CEO, Total Community Action
MR. FRANK WILLIAMS, Treasurer
President, Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Association
DR. RENEE AKBAR
Chair, Xavier University of Louisiana Division of Education
DR. WILMER CODY, ED.D.
Former Commissioner of Education, Louisiana & Kentucky
MR. LLOYD DENNIS
Founder & President, The Silverback Society
MR. LAMONT HAYES
Senior Development Officer, Xavier University of Louisiana
MS. ERICA MCCONDUIT
President & CEO, Urban League of Greater New Orleans
MS. TIMOLYNN SAMS SUMTER
Executive Director, Neighborhoods Partnership Network
MRS. MARIA VIBANDOR HAYES
Engagement Manager, Cylance Inc.
MR. SEAN WILSON
Head of School, International High School New Orleans

History

From the beginning, OPEN has gathered and centered community voice in policies that secure what's best for children, families and schools.

THE BEGINNING

In 2007, several organizations — the Committee for a Better New Orleans, Urban League of Greater New Orleans, Children’s Defense Fund, Louisiana Justice Institute, and more — came together to envision a sustainable and effective education reform movement. Over a year-long discussion, one theme continually emerged: the need for a deep and abiding connection between the public and its school system.
2016-12-04T21:10:59+00:00
In 2007, several organizations — the Committee for a Better New Orleans, Urban League of Greater New Orleans, Children’s Defense Fund, Louisiana Justice Institute, and more — came together to envision a sustainable and effective education reform movement. Over a year-long discussion, one theme continually emerged: the need for a deep and abiding connection between the public and its school system.

In 2009, almost four years into New Orleans’ post-Katrina education reforms, Orleans Public Education Network was formally chartered as a platform and conduit for citizen voice in public education.
2016-12-04T21:12:45+00:00
In 2009, almost four years into New Orleans’ post-Katrina education reforms, Orleans Public Education Network was formally chartered as a platform and conduit for citizen voice in public education.

OPEN's first initiative, the Participatory Research Project (2010), which surveyed over 600 New Orleans citizens to understand their interpretation of the post-Katrina local education landscape, revealed critical nuances in local attitudes towards school reform culture as well as citizens' true desires for successful public education. These perspectives informed the focus of OPEN's next major campaign, ONE STEP.
2016-12-04T21:14:16+00:00
OPEN's first initiative, the Participatory Research Project (2010), which surveyed over 600 New Orleans citizens to understand their interpretation of the post-Katrina local education landscape, revealed critical nuances in local attitudes towards school reform culture as well as citizens' true desires for successful public education. These perspectives informed the focus of OPEN's next major campaign, ONE STEP.

The ONE STEP Campaign (2010-11): New Orleans' first post-Katrina grassroots campaign to craft a vision for the future of the city's schools. OPEN convened a ten-month event series that established 34 working groups and engaged over 2,000 people to create a community-aligned platform for local education.


Out of the focus groups, conversations and community meetings came ONE STEP's ultimate achievement: The People's Agenda, a synthesis of more than 300 policy recommendations, priorities, and solutions. The Agenda informs our mission, representing a holistic vision of excellence and equity in public education.
2016-12-04T21:31:30+00:00
The ONE STEP Campaign (2010-11): New Orleans' first post-Katrina grassroots campaign to craft a vision for the future of the city's schools. OPEN convened a ten-month event series that established 34 working groups and engaged over 2,000 people to create a community-aligned platform for local education. Out of the focus groups, conversations and community meetings came ONE STEP's ultimate achievement: The People's Agenda, a synthesis of more than 300 policy recommendations, priorities, and solutions. The Agenda informs our mission, representing a holistic vision of excellence and equity in public education.

Leadership: OPEN is tapped to co-chair the Coalition for Community Leadership in Education (CCLE) and pivotal Recovery School District Community Taskforce, helping local groups charter schools and implement OneApp policies that made sure open-enrollment schools were truly accessible to all applicants.
2016-12-04T21:55:38+00:00
Leadership: OPEN is tapped to co-chair the Coalition for Community Leadership in Education (CCLE) and pivotal Recovery School District Community Taskforce, helping local groups charter schools and implement OneApp policies that made sure open-enrollment schools were truly accessible to all applicants.

The Present

Our early childhood advocacy project, Ready, Set, Go!, leads the city's efforts in collecting developmental data of kindergarten-age children. RSG provides a wealth of opportunities for local decision makers to direct resources where they're most needed: young children and their communities.

Ready, Set, Go! inspired New Orleans' first Born Learning Trail, a public play area where kids and parents can learn, play and grow together in the country's only trail presented in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese!
2016-12-04T22:55:01+00:00
Our early childhood advocacy project, Ready, Set, Go!, leads the city's efforts in collecting developmental data of kindergarten-age children. RSG provides a wealth of opportunities for local decision makers to direct resources where they're most needed: young children and their communities. Ready, Set, Go! inspired New Orleans' first Born Learning Trail, a public play area where kids and parents can learn, play and grow together in the country's only trail presented in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese!

Since 2012, OPEN has brought the public to policymakers for a yearly Public Education Day at the Capitol and Legislative Breakfast. Participants attend live committee meetings, hear from legislators, and receive civic capacity training to advocate for public education.
2016-12-04T23:02:55+00:00
Since 2012, OPEN has brought the public to policymakers for a yearly Public Education Day at the Capitol and Legislative Breakfast. Participants attend live committee meetings, hear from legislators, and receive civic capacity training to advocate for public education.

For the 2010 and 2012 Legislative Sessions, OPEN hosted the Understanding Governance Lecture Series. A diverse group of education professionals presented research and recommendations for effective governance strategies to inform and engage local constituents on critical decisions in school governance. Participants expressed that the series informed and refined their opinions on how local schools should run.
2016-12-04T23:06:47+00:00
For the 2010 and 2012 Legislative Sessions, OPEN hosted the Understanding Governance Lecture Series. A diverse group of education professionals presented research and recommendations for effective governance strategies to inform and engage local constituents on critical decisions in school governance. Participants expressed that the series informed and refined their opinions on how local schools should run.

In 2013, OPEN brought the national Family Leadership Training Institute to New Orleans. The program trains adults and youth to lead with an intensive 18-week course in civic, advocacy, media, fundraising, leadership and more. OPEN has graduated five cohorts of equipped, inspired leaders banding together to serve as advocates for the next generation. Over 65 FLTI NOLA alumni are working today to build community-grounded solutions for their schools and neighborhoods.
2016-12-04T23:19:48+00:00
In 2013, OPEN brought the national Family Leadership Training Institute to New Orleans. The program trains adults and youth to lead with an intensive 18-week course in civic, advocacy, media, fundraising, leadership and more. OPEN has graduated five cohorts of equipped, inspired leaders banding together to serve as advocates for the next generation. Over 65 FLTI NOLA alumni are working today to build community-grounded solutions for their schools and neighborhoods.

OPEN hosts the nationally-accredited Education Policy Fellowship Program in Louisiana to build a pipeline of local education leaders through professional development, networking, and policy training. Fellows emerge from the program equipped to respond to high-level challenges through public policy, supported by a national alumni network and collaborative power-building.
2016-12-05T00:05:05+00:00
OPEN hosts the nationally-accredited Education Policy Fellowship Program in Louisiana to build a pipeline of local education leaders through professional development, networking, and policy training. Fellows emerge from the program equipped to respond to high-level challenges through public policy, supported by a national alumni network and collaborative power-building.

The Future

In recent years, we have asked "what is best to build?" Now, as the country turns the corner into a new era of school reform, the central concern is "what is best to sustain?"

OPEN answers this question by doing what it's always done: centering the voices and experiences of the people in education policy.

Looking ahead, and always honoring the past, OPEN keeps people informed, engaged, and equipped to advocate for the future: the children.


OPEN: The Voice and Source for Public Education.

2016-12-05T00:07:16+00:00
In recent years, we have asked "what is best to build?" Now, as the country turns the corner into a new era of school reform, the central concern is "what is best to sustain?" OPEN answers this question by doing what it's always done: centering the voices and experiences of the people in education policy. Looking ahead, and always honoring the past, OPEN keeps people informed, engaged, and equipped to advocate for the future: the children. OPEN: The Voice and Source for Public Education.

Funding Partners

OPEN is deeply thankful to all of our supporters, whose contributions build excellence and equity in New Orleans schools through civic capacity, public engagement, and community voice.

Supporters

STAY CONNECTED TO #NOLAED

© Orleans Public Education Network, 2009 — 2017.