Brown University and Roger Williams University Announce Transition of Two Programs from Annenberg Institute for School Reform to RWU School of Continuing Studies


PROVIDENCE, R.I., November 2, 2017 – Brown University and Roger Williams University are pleased to announce an agreement to move two programs – New England-Based Community Organizing & Engagement, and District & Systems Transformation – from Brown’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform to RWU’s School of Continuing Studies, effective Nov. 13, 2017.

AISR’s New England-based Community Organizing & Engagement team has played an important technical assistance and research role supporting family engagement, youth and parent organizing, and youth leadership and voice efforts by groups throughout the Northeast since 2011. The District & Systems Transformation team has provided technical assistance, research, tools and other resources to school districts nationally to help them collaborate with community and civic partners to develop a seamless network of supports for young people in historically underserved schools.

Sitting at the nexus of research, policy and practice, these teams have extensive experience supporting two key constituencies that are deeply invested in the long-term sustainability of school reforms – community organizations that serve and organize parents and youth, and school districts where educators strive to partner with the communities they serve.

Once at RWU, the transitioning teams will launch an innovative joint initiative – the Center for Youth and Community Leadership in Education, or CYCLE – under the direction of Keith C. Catone, who has led the development of Annenberg Institute’s New England-based Community Organizing & Engagement team for the past seven years.

The transition of these programs results from a refocusing of AISR’s mission, which reflects Brown’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction. Moving forward, AISR’s programs and structure will emphasize closer integration with the University’s research and teaching mission and create a hub of scholarship and policy work that engages faculty, students, and practitioner experts addressing the causes, consequences and mitigation of educational inequality.

The aims and approaches of the SCS and the transitioning programs are strongly aligned. The SCS has intentionally created partnerships and developed programs and initiatives that align to its ethos. SCS works to comprehensively and systematically address family, community and industry needs, and it welcomes the expertise and networks that the Annenberg team brings.

RWU President Donald J. Farish said, “I believe merging the two teams from Brown’s Annenberg Institute into a single initiative at RWU – and then coupling it with RWU’s ongoing commitment to create access to higher education for traditionally underserved populations – will create synergies that will dramatically increase both the size and the effectiveness of our programs that support underserved populations. That outcome will serve not just the individual students themselves but also the communities from which they come – and ultimately the state as a whole.”

RWU School of Continuing Studies Dean Jamie Scurry said, “We link arms with our partners and deploy an array of educational opportunities to remove obstacles and put families on a path to economic prosperity and personal success. In doing that work, we honor the ecological and cultural contexts of our students, families and communities, addressing multi-generational poverty family by family, block by block. To that end, a partnership with Keith Catone and his team allows for us to harness our energies and efforts to ensure positive collective impact. I could not be more excited to have CYCLE a part of the School of Continuing Studies. Together, all is possible.”

This transition comes after extensive collaboration between Brown University, AISR and Roger Williams University. All parties are enthusiastic about the synergies and new opportunities that the transition provides. We look forward to the contributions to the mission of educational equity that will emerge, both from the new phase of work at AISR and from the new work to be undertaken at RWU.

“It is especially gratifying that the valuable work that has taken place at the Annenberg Institute will continue here in Rhode Island at Roger Williams University,” said Brown University Provost Richard M. Locke. “The mission and intent of these programs align well with RWU’s strategic direction, and this new partnership will ensure enduring impact in the area of public education in our state and region.”