Running Strong After All These Years: How A Five Year CAPE School Sustains and Continuously Improves into Year Eight, 2000

  • Description

A central component of our evaluation and inquiry agenda for the Chicago Arts Partnershipsin Education (CAPE) during the school year 1999-2000 was a quest for understanding the reasons for the ability of programs to survive after the sponsor funding ceased. Why do some programs survive well beyond their original funding and support? This is an absolutely crucial question for the sponsors of most any program entering schools with goals of long term or permanent change. This question equally impacts foundations, government agencies, and individual philanthropists. Sponsors of funded programs in our schools generally have as their highest hope that their investments willspawn change, and not just expenditure of money. To seek information and suggested answersto the critical issue of sustainability,we interviewed parents, teachers, and administrators. We also surveyed key players and asked them to enumerate what they saw to be important longevity factors for their CAPE programs. We uncovered many things in this process. One component of our work that turned out remarkably well was interviews with key teachers involved in the CAPE programs that have lived in since CAPE's very start. Our team invited a teacher, perhaps the most experienced and thoughtful witness to the whole project, to compose a narrative account of the development of the program at her school. What resulted was a very lucid account of the complex processed of launching and institutionalizing a program ignited by an outside sponsor: the successes and pitfalls, the leaders and resisters. It is a compelling story about the long-term evolution of a school community and its central conversations.