Cross-City Campaign To Close: Another One Bites The Dust

Last week I started hearing that yet another Chicago-based education organization was closing its doors.  After confirming the story, I held off until now to let the group send out its own letter on Tuesday. 

The news is that next month, Cross-City Campaign will join the Chicago Panel, Andy Wade's LSC coordination initiative (see below for more on LSCs).  Only Designs For Change, PURE, the education program at BPI, and a handful of other such groups remain.

According to CCC's Diana Nelson, funders' changing interests are the main reason for the organization's demise.  They want direct services to kids or schools, not community organizing.  They want universities to do research, not CBOs.  And they're not giving general operating funds anymore.

Attached is the letter announcing the news.

From Diana Nelson:

Dear Colleague:

Thanks to you and the many
individuals and groups with whom we have been privileged to work, the
Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform built a diverse network
of people who are working hard every day to improve urban public schools.
We are indeed proud of what we have accomplished together, but must
now face the inevitable. 

At its November Board Meeting,
our Board of Directors, upon my recommendation, adopted a resolution
to dissolve the national corporate structure of the organization in
the first quarter of 2007. I hope that you will join our national and
local board members, our fine staff and me in viewing this news with
a glad heart, as well as some sadness, as we remember the accomplishments
and the impact that the Cross City Campaign has had over the last 14
years. As we pass the torch to a new generation of school
reformers, we wish to thank you for contributing
your expertise to our inclusive, national community of practice. Our strength lies in the diversity
of our network, and you
have been a part of it.

Because of you and our collective
work, we have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the significance
of community and youth organizing in creating powerful constituencies
to press for and sustain school reform; the need
for practical action research as a basis for effective
organizing; the pivotal role that central office staff can play as instructional
leaders; the importance of parents and students voices in improving
their schools and school systems; and as Angus McBeath has reminded us, that the most important
work done in society is done by teachers.

Since the founding of the Cross
City Campaign for Urban School Reform by Anne Hallett  and other
national school reformers in 1993, our Board and staff have worked tirelessly
to provide a forum for the dissemination of those ideas that research
has demonstrated make an effective difference in the creation of good
schools and excellent, supportive districts. The web site will be maintained where a time line
and publications in the form of pdfs will be available. Additionally
you will find web addresses to contact organizations that have been
strong partners with Cross City Campaign because we know that the work
will continue in Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Chicago,
New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities where ideas we collectively
espoused have taken root. 

I do hate to say good-bye. 
So please let me close with a quote from our first publication, Reinventing
Central Office: A Primer for Successful Schools
because these words
remain true today:


Members of the
Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform have come together, motivated
by crisis and hope. The current conditions in which far too many city
children live, especially children of color and those whose families
are poor, are intolerable. Economic injustice and lack of work have
forced families to live in poverty, in settings filled with violence
and drugs. Yet all communities have assets and strengths intellectual,
spiritual, cultural and physical that provide the essential building
blocks for raising children and revitalizing community life. Public
schools are central to this hope as the institution that carries forward
a vision of democracy, justice and inclusion grounded in community
and invested in young people. We all have a stake in the millions of
young people growing up in cities and attending public schools.

This work is not done. Individually,
we will continue to speak out on issues affecting students in urban
schools. And we know
that you will too!


Diana Nelson

Executive Director

Filed under: Communities & CBOs


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  • I encourage my friends to read the book titled The Spider and the Starfish. It illustrates how decentralized organizations grow, united by a vision.

    At this link is a chart illustrating how anyone who cares about the future of kids living in poverty, can join together as a group to mobilize volunteers, donors, etc. to support programs that help kids move from poverty to jobs and careers

    In November the Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Association received a $2 million donation from the Chicago Sun Times, and will distrubte these funds over the next 3-5 years to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in high poverty Chicago neighborhoods.

    This donation is the result of 14 years of work by the Tutor/Mentor Connection and volunteers in the legal community. It's an example of how people who care can take the lead in trying to find the resources needed by organizations throughout a big city like Chicago.

    I host a conference in May and November and encourage those of you who are interested in making something happen to plan to attend. The web site is

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