Dawn M. Ellis and Associates, LLC

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Dawn M. Ellis & Associates helps clients make significant change, amplifying their work on behalf of people and communities.

Young People Find Their Voice.  Ford's Theatre, where President Lincoln was assassinated, invited DME to help it build its education programs. DME provided technical assistance, research to "tune" new programs, and strategic guidance.  Initial work focused on leadership, history, and voice. Through its oratory programs, Ford's empowers teachers and students, with a focus on rural and urban communities.  DME studied partners from Missouri, D.C., Nebraska, Baltimore, Iowa, and across the U.S. to inform Ford's oratory work.

Tennessee Eliminates the Poverty Achievement Gap in Test Communities. DME's state needs assessment, Ready, Set, Grow!, served as the foundation for a Tennessee education reform effort that received the top rated 2006 U.S. Department of Education grant.  The support catalyzed Value Plus Schools, a research-based, arts-infused reform initiative for schools in under-resourced communities, from rural mountain towns to urban cities. An independent evaluation finds the Value Plus Schools students showed greater academic progress than comparison schools, even though they had higher percentages of students at-risk for failure.  The reform approach involves families as assets, uses whole school professional development, teaches in and through the arts, and makes schools more permeable.

International Foundation Catalyzes Education Reform Approach. In the 1990's, The Ford Foundation commissioned Dawn Ellis to provide technical assistance to help it envision funding in the space between two of its units.  Studying the connections among Education, Knowledge, and Religion and Media, Arts, and Culture, Ellis examined the education and arts intersection. As a result, the Ford Foundation refined its vision and mobilized philanthropic and public U.S. support in this intersection. For a decade, it funded the Integrating Arts and Education Reform Initiative, the Keep Arts in Schools initiative, research on arts and learning.  It also supported national policy networks such as the Arts Education Partnership, international arts education projects, and communications work to educate the public on the potential benefits of arts in education reform.  Today, arts integration is widely tapped as a viable education reform approach for improving learning, particularly in urban areas.
Rhode Island Reorients Education to Honor Youth Learning. The youth-oriented framework arising from Dawn Ellis' consulting in the late 1990's-2000's helped galvanize the Rhode Island Governor's Literacy in the Arts Task Force to put youth at the center of their education reform efforts. They report this influenced overall state education reform approaches, focusing on learning proficiency rather than time spent in coursework.  The Rhode Island Arts Learning Network, an innovative coalition, developed a model for statewide education reform using authentic assessment, youth involvement, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of community resources, and cross-silo collaboration. The student-centered framework influenced policy changes to general education accountability in all subject areas. Districts developed systems to assess and provide credit for students demonstrating proficiency learned at home, school, and community settings.

Theatre Company Empowers Those Not Heard.

As a result of working with DME on its partnership with a maximum security juvenile rehabilitation center, Delaware Theatre Company learns to teach and adapt to a variety of populations.  Through playwriting, theatre and professional development, DTC now structures innovative partnerships to cultivate and share the creative wisdom of students, seniors, and social service clients.

Wyoming Involves Educators in Award- Winning Professional Development. The University of Wyoming Art Museum invited Dawn Ellis to keynote and serve as a mentor, resource, and critical friend for their professional development program for art, museum, and community educators across the state. Ellis guided educators through design steps to create innovative partnerships to reach their most challenging students. This Transforming Learning: Summer Teaching Institute won a 2010 regional EdCom Award for Excellence in Programming, making it a finalist for a national award through the American Alliance of Museums.