1. Organization: A+ Schools
2. Founding Date: 2004
3. Executive Director: James Fogarty
4. Current Staff Size: Full-time 6, Part-time 1
5. Geographic Area Served: City of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh’s traditional and charter public schools)
6. Mission Statement:
A+ Schools is a community force advancing the highest educational achievement and character development for every public school student. A+ Schools’ vision is a district where 100 percent of students graduate and at least 80 percent of students go on to complete some form of college or career training. A+ Schools wants schools that work for all children and for race to not be a factor in student achievement or access to opportunities.
In order to achieve this vision, A+ Schools advocates for students to receive an equitable education: one that provides each student with the individual support he or she needs to reach and exceed a shared standard of success. What equity looks like will be different from school to school and community to community, but ultimately, A+ Schools wants each child’s promise and potential to be reached through a high quality education.
Talking with James Fogarty, Executive Director
7. What is one project or program that you are really excited about?
We’re really excited about taking our Parent Nation and TeenBloc programs to the next level in the coming year. Our Parent Nation advocates have volunteered over 13,000 hours in high needs schools in the past year, and they have come together to win campaigns for increasing the number of school nurses available to students and to improve language supports for immigrant families. And our TeenBloc students will be starting a new year this fall with an Youth Organizing Academy to generate ideas for issues they want to address in their schools and in the District. These cohorts of youth and parent leaders are integral to a long-term strategy to work with district leaders and staff to improve educational outcomes for all children.
8. What are some of the corporation’s recent accomplishments?
In the past year we’ve engaged over 1,250 people at neighborhood, community, and school events in conversations about education equity. Parent volunteers spent 13,353 hours volunteering in schools mostly serving as classroom aids and monitors. We delivered over 35,000 copies of our Report to the Community to families with children in Pittsburgh and presented to over 400 people about progress in Pittsburgh’s public schools. Finally, we helped lead the “Vote School Board First!” coalition that knocked over 2,000 doors and reached over 10,000 registered voters through, mail, phone, and online.
9. What is an interesting fact about your corporation or its history?
A crisis in the Pittsburgh Public Schools led to the creation of A+ Schools in 2004. Two years earlier, three major Pittsburgh foundations withdrew financial support from school district — prompting then mayor Tom Murphy to establish the Commission on Public Education to address the situation and make recommendations. The Commission’s report called for the formation of an organization to provide the leadership needed for school reform. A+ Schools became that organization.
10. What are some of your upcoming events?
Our annual Changemakers Celebration will be taking place Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the August Wilson Center. We’ll be honoring the Pittsburgh Promise as our Changemaker Organization of the Year along with parents, educators, students, and volunteers who make our work possible. To join us go to bit.ly/changemakers2017.
13. Contact Information