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.
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.

Sharing Wisdom to Save Baby's Lives

Baltimore Healthy Start turned a corner after working with DME for a year through JSI Inc. technical assistance and then engaging direct DME planning and facilitation, this public health organization rebranded, stabilized the organization, and began to share its wisdom with other communities throughout the region.  Dedicated to reducing infant mortality, it had a generation of success stories of how to connect with and empower young mothers in Baltimore's central neighborhoods to make choices, tap health care, and support each other to invest in their baby's health.  Since the coaching, BHS and its partners have hosted two Health and Housing Symposia to tackle the challenging systems surrounding infant mortality.  These convenings serve to raise the voices of its community leaders, shine more light on systemic challenges and gains made in these central Baltimore neighborhoods, and raise the BHS profile as a thought leader and convener, allowing it to help more people and save more infants.

Vermont Farm to School Network Measures

To support this two decade old network, DME facilitated their early discussions about what is most important to measure when evaluating the impact of their work.  With the identification of the key role of health measures, Vermont Farm to School Network engaged the VT Department of Health to take the lead developing and collecting a baseline on school food and nutrition activity.  Results of the first statewide survey follow, allowing the network to begin to understand the current level of engagement and involvement and build the case for strengthening state and local support for VFTS grants, universal meals.

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.  The state went on to develop the Arts360 approach from this work, winning a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for model dissemination work in 2010.

Teachers Grow and 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.

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.
Wyoming Connects and Mobilizes Educators.
The University of Wyoming 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.  Returning to Wyoming in 2017, DME facilitated a developing state coalition led by the Wyoming Arts Council, coaching state leaders as they built partnerships, envisioned a state summit, and began to create an action agenda across the state, proactively preparing for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Theatre 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.