Norwalk ACTS was initially conceived to proactively address suspension rates in the Norwalk Public Schools, aspects of No Child Left Behind and the fact that Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in the nation between low-income children and their more affluent peers.
The Norwalk ACTS membership grew quickly, and its core team—the Mayor, School Superintendent, Executive Director of the Norwalk Children’s Foundation, Chair of the NAACP, Chair of the Early Childhood Council, President of the Teacher’s Union and President of Norwalk Community College—developed a strategic plan to help close the student achievement gap in Norwalk.
The Norwalk ACTS membership adopted a three-year strategic plan that established community outcome areas of focus.
The Norwalk ACTS strategic planning team was introduced to the concept of Collective Impact and the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network. The underlying premise of Collective Impact is that no single organization can create large-scale, lasting social change alone.
Norwalk ACTS adopted the principles of Collective Impact and the methodology of StriveTogether. Norwalk ACTS contracted with StriveTogether to assist with the development of a civic infrastructure and a cradle-to-career roadmap to success.
StriveTogether facilitated a Design Institute for the Norwalk ACTS Membership. The Institute provided Norwalk ACTS with the tools necessary to develop its first 180-Day Plan.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children was chosen as the Anchor Entity for Norwalk ACTS. Norwalk ACTS moved from a fully volunteer to a staffed organization, and became one of 53 communities within the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network to be designated as a community “Committed to Quality.”
Today, 90% of the Norwalk ACTS’ Membership has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that holds Norwalk ACTS and its Members accountable for creating a dynamic civic infrastructure that aligns individual and collective action with advocacy and financial investment to strengthen educational, social/emotional, and physical health support systems through the achievement of six community level outcomes.