Atlanta’s Dunbar Learning Complex: Lessons From a Two-Generation Approach

Posted October 3, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog twogenerationapproachatlanta 2017

Jason E. Miczek for the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Atlanta’s Dun­bar Learn­ing Com­plex is advanc­ing an ambi­tious mis­sion: To pre­pare chil­dren for kinder­garten and have their health needs met while also help­ing par­ents secure fam­i­ly-sup­port­ing jobs and finan­cial­ly sta­bil­i­ty. And a new Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion report — Help­ing Chil­dren and Par­ents Suc­ceed Togeth­er — sug­gests that the com­plex is on the right track.

Read the report

The report ref­er­ences an ongo­ing eval­u­a­tion, con­duct­ed by the Urban Child Study Cen­ter at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty, that points to ear­ly edu­ca­tion gains among kids enrolled in the complex’s child care ser­vices, pro­vid­ed by Edu­care Atlanta. Among the bright spots:

  • 79% of Edu­care Atlanta’s prekinder­garten stu­dents per­formed at or above aver­age on the Brack­en School Readi­ness Assessment;
  • 76% of Edu­care Atlanta’s preschool stu­dents and 82% of prekinder­garten stu­dents per­formed at or above aver­age on a com­mon read­ing readi­ness screen­er; and
  • 96% of Edu­care Atlanta’s prekinder­garten stu­dents demon­strat­ed age-appro­pri­ate social emo­tion­al skills that sup­port pos­i­tive behav­ior, achieve­ment and learn­ing, accord­ing to teachers.

These ear­ly results are promis­ing, accord­ing to experts, but sus­tain­ing such gains as stu­dents progress through the school sys­tem can be challenging.

We are work­ing with our part­ners to build on the areas where we’re gain­ing trac­tion and recal­i­brat­ing our strate­gies to ensure those pos­i­tive gains last as stu­dents matric­u­late into high­er grades,” says Rubye Sul­li­van, a senior asso­ciate who over­sees the edu­ca­tion achieve­ment efforts for Casey’s Atlanta Civic Site. Doing so will require greater align­ment at every step of a child’s aca­d­e­m­ic jour­ney, from ear­ly care to ele­men­tary and beyond.”

The Casey Foun­da­tion report also high­lights rec­om­men­da­tions — offered by key part­ners of the com­plex — aimed at enhanc­ing the coor­di­na­tion of ser­vices for chil­dren and their parents.

Among them:

  • Strong, com­mit­ted lead­er­ship in all part­ner orga­ni­za­tions is key;
  • Suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships must ded­i­cate time to devel­op rela­tion­ships and build goodwill;
  • Gen­uine col­lab­o­ra­tion often requires orga­ni­za­tions to adopt new ways of work­ing; and
  • Con­tin­u­ous eval­u­a­tion and read­just­ment as need­ed are essen­tial to progress.

The Foun­da­tion con­tin­ues to invest in the com­plex as part of its ongo­ing com­mit­ment to increas­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for low-income fam­i­lies in south­west Atlanta.

About the Dun­bar Learn­ing Complex

The Dun­bar Learn­ing Com­plex opened in 2010 with sup­port from Casey’s Atlanta Civic Site and sev­er­al pub­lic and pri­vate part­ners. Housed with­in the Dun­bar Ele­men­tary School in the Mechan­icsville neigh­bor­hood — part of Neigh­bor­hood Plan­ning Unit V — the com­plex embraces a two-gen­er­a­tion approach. It co-locates ser­vices and pro­grams that equip par­ents and kids with the tools they need to suc­ceed while also remov­ing obsta­cles in their way. These ser­vices include:

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