The Lawrence Community Partnerships Case Study
In 2012, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education moved to address the chronically low performance of the Lawrence Public Schools by placing the district in receivership. Jeff Riley, the leader appointed to transform the system, immediately set about extending the school day to offer students a wider array of learning opportunities. A central component of this strategy was engaging with local nonprofits. Lawrence’s community organizations embraced the opportunity to share all that they could provide. They were especially adept at helping the district connect with parents, who had previously felt unwelcome in the schools. Public education in Lawrence is steadily improving in measurable ways. But the most valuable gains that this transformation has produce for both the community and its youth are more difficult to quantify. This case study attempts to capture these improvements through the voices of the city’s leaders.
The paper is part of a series examining innovative Gateway City initiatives. Each profile explores the unique dynamics of change in small to midsize urban communities, where resources are limited and social challenges are complex. These papers capture the basic mechanics of the initiatives. Then they attempt to distill universal lessons for leaders by looking at how communities come together to make their change efforts a success.