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Citation:Hirota, J., Jacobowitz, R., & Brown, P. (2000). The donorsÕ education collaborative: Strategies for systemic school reform. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children.

The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the impact of a community-based school reform effort and to examine lessons learned over four years of implementation. The DonorsÕ Education Collaborative (DEC) is a collaborative initiative to build constituencies, formulate policy, and advocate for change in order to effect reform of the New York City public school system. Results occurred in three key areas: systemic reform goals and strategies, collaboration, and achievements. The authors report that, overall, the projects made significant progress toward or achieved interim results during the four years of implementation. The projects had also begun to have policy impact and were gaining influence in New York City education policy discussions. The evaluators found that the four projects cumulatively contributed a voice in targeted policy debates, strengthened the institutional groundwork for reform, raised the visibility of education issues, promoted the legitimacy of stakeholder groups, and helped prepare organizations to take next steps in their reform efforts. The initiative was evaluated using data from a variety of sources including project materials, meeting minutes, media coverage, and field work, such as participation in project events. Interviews were also conducted with project participants and outside observers. This report describes specific indicators of success for community-based school reform efforts. It also describes some of the challenges of evaluating this kind of work, noting that "it is most often a congruence of many factors that effect policy change." The lessons learned in this initiative are described broadly enough to make them relevant to similar kinds of efforts.

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