MISSION & 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.
In 2007, an array of community-based organizations 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.
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 and citizens’ true desires for successful public education.
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.
The People’s Agenda
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.
Civic Capacity Building
In 2013, OPEN brought the national Family Leadership Training Institute to New Orleans. The program builds civic capacity among local adults and youth through 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.
In partnership with the Institute for Educational Leadership, 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.
2017 saw the launch of the New Orleans Equity Index, the city’s first and only comprehensive data set on equity-related school metrics beyond the test score.
As a continuation of the Ready, Set, Go! project, 2018 will see the third Early Development Instrument collection in New Orleans. Teachers and childcare providers fill out a short survey on their students’ developmental progress. Those surveys are then collected, anonymized, and combined into neighborhood-level reports. Ultimately, communities use these reports to assess how well they are supporting children and families, and target resources where they’re needed most.
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 Louisiana
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 of New Orleans