“The Mon Valley Education Consortium (now the Consortium for Public Education) began with a dream — that a level playing field could be created for all children, even if their school districts and communities were struggling to overcome financial setbacks and dwindling tax bases.” Linda L. Croushore, Ed.D., former Executive Director
To continue celebrating the Anniversary year we kicked off last month, let’s look at the very beginning of the Consortium’s story. Launched with 20 school districts in September 1986, the organization we are today was founded as the Mon Valley Education Consortium. Amid ongoing shock waves from steel industry’s collapse, it was started to give added support to schools in communities that had lost their economic moorings.
It was an enormous mission, started with a small program that whose planned impact was far bigger than it might have appeared at the time. The nominal intent was to build enthusiasm among educators with seed money for small, but innovative ideas for classroom teaching. The broader aim was to build enthusiasm not just in schools, but for schools, in their communities.
It quickly began doing both. In classrooms across the Mon Valley, the impact could be seen in learning opportunities that ranged from making musical instruments and creating Math Olympic Games to planting butterfly gardens and building wind turbines.
As more and more projects made learning come alive for kids—with worm-composting bins and websites students developed to illustrate periods of American history—enthusiasm for the grants grew. Soon, spirits ran high enough that School Action Committees in receiving districts rallied support for even more Great Idea Grants. They joined in fundraising, deliberated over grant applications, and conferred awards.
As the program continued through the mid-2000s, it raised some $1.2 million and funded more than 2,100 truly great ideas!