StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to improve the lives of children and youth from kindergarten through college and beyond, has announced a pledge of up to $60 million over six years from the Ballmer Group in support of the organization’s efforts to reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities nationwide.

The commitment from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, is focused on StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Network, which works to improve partnerships among school systems, education service organizations, and other groups that provide services to families in need. The funds will be used, among other things, to launch a community challenge fund designed to accelerate the network’s efforts and strengthen the organization’s efforts to disseminate learnings to other organizations in the youth development field.

To that end, StriveTogether has identified seven core capacities it considers essential to improving the strength and effectiveness of local community partnerships: building the local leadership and talent pipeline; improving access to data and information; supporting practice improvement; broadening community engagement; influencing policy, advocacy, and community mobilization; ensuring that local partnerships have sustainable resources; and working toward equitable implementation of the above strategies.

“At the heart of our new plan is the belief that every child deserves to reach his or her full potential,” said StriveTogether interim CEO Jennifer Blatz. “We are asking communities to shift the focus from institutions and systems to students and families. The plan recognizes the strong work under way while acknowledging the complexity of what’s ahead and the scale of support required to create lasting change for kids and families.”

“Through learning about the work of StriveTogether and visiting local partnerships in the Cradle to Career Network, we have witnessed the amazing power and possibility of intensive, inclusive community-based work,” said Connie Ballmer. “StriveTogether is a national leader, and we hope that our support strengthens existing partnerships to go farther and inspires more communities around the country to join in.”

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