WHO WE ARE
In 2007, OPEN was founded to create authentic and effective connection between New Orleans schools and the parents, students, and local citizens they serve. We exist to center lived experience in education policy and practice, and awaken local residents to the strength and power of their own voice.
WHAT WE DO
OPEN believes that everyone has the skills and drive to make a difference for young people. Our work equips people just like you to build on the positive: supporting, leading, and advocating on behalf of kids. To that end, we:
- Train citizens to discover their power and apply it to the issues that matter
- Remove barriers to participation with free or low-cost programming and supports like childcare and transportation
- Support graduates in taking action, sustaining their initiative, and measuring the impact
- Help schools and organizations to engage community bases and receive their input
- Promote invested, homegrown leadership at every level from the classroom to the board room
- Gather high-quality data to unpack the stories behind the statistics
- Advocate for equitable policy and practice in three key issue areas: school readiness, student equity, and data transparency and accountability
Our programs include:
- The Family Leadership Training Institute, an intensive free course in civic advocacy, media, organizing, fundraising and more
- The Education Policy Fellowship Program, training a pipeline of local education leaders in policy and leadership
- Parent Leaders United in Schools (PLUS), helping schools build authentic and effective parent-school relationships
- The Ready, Set, Go! initiative, providing detailed early childhood data to direct resources where they're needed most
- Students Advocating for Youth Issues Together (SAY IT), helping young people to speak on behalf of themselves and all students
WHY IT WORKS
Research across fields has shown that focusing on talents, strengths and competencies is far more likely to create long-lasting success than focusing on needs and problems.
Public institutions — like New Orleans public schools — are all too often defined in terms of their failings. The problems seem overwhelming and too big to tackle. The community becomes discouraged, disinvested, and disengaged from the institutions that educate their children.
OPEN takes a different approach. We believe that when people are allowed to discover their own power, they tap into the momentum and opportunity to achieve for the whole community's benefit.
It's not that the public lacks the will or knowledge for transformative solutions. It's that their gifts are undervalued and their voices go unheard. But when those gifts are activated… well, amazing things can happen. OPEN exists to bring citizens into that reality. Over the last eight years we've:
- Graduated 65 family leaders banding together for collective impact and building community-grounded solutions for their schools and neighborhoods
- Supported the development of over 50 youth-serving initiatives through the Family Leadership Training Institute
- Engaged 3,000+ citizens in qualitative research and collaborative power-building around public education to create The People's Agenda, the only community-developed formal vision for New Orleans public schools
- Gathered critical developmental data on 65% of New Orleans kindergarten-age children representing 44 neighborhoods
We're not asking you to deny the issues. We're asking you to open your eyes to the possibilities right here.