Jacksonville Public Education Fund
Florida Nonprofit Engages Community with Help of Donated Software
Duval County, Florida, operates the 21st largest school district in the United States, educating nearly 125,000 students each year. When the Jacksonville Public Education Fund was founded in 2009, surveys showed that residents viewed education as the most important issue facing them. One out of three students in the county was not graduating on time, and over half of students in grades 3 through 10 were performing below grade level on standardized tests. The community struggled with these challenges while facing increasing budget cuts from the state. Core to the Jacksonville Public Education Fund's mission is empowering its constituents to be the drivers of change.
Deirdre Conner, director of communications, explains that the organization pushes to keep public education at the top of the agenda and to promote all that can be done to improve it. She says, "The task of improving education can seem daunting to the public, noting that while there are a lot of solutions available, it's hard to explain such complex issues in a way that's understandable."
Adobe Creative Suite, a donation received through TechSoup, is key for communicating with the public efficiently. In addition to numerous information products from the organization's Data & Research Department, one campaign that made ample use of the Creative Suite was "ONE by ONE." It included an exhibit telling the stories of 20 students facing obstacles in they way of completing their education. Conner explains that with Creative Suite they promoted the exhibit, made flyers to get the word out, and created a toolkit with a guide for facilitated discussions. This outreach empowered constituents to be a part of the process. The exhibit sparked 169 in-person discussions with more than 1,600 community members. Delegates from these discussions were chosen to help form a strategic plan for the school district, giving the community the tools to advocate for itself.