Welcome to the Southern Education Foundation’s New Website
I arrived at SEF in November 2011 and am absolutely thrilled to be here. This Foundation has a cherished history and record of accomplishment that belies its size and resources. I am committed to advancing this record in ways that generate positive education outcomes for children, adolescents and young adults, especially the least advantaged among them. This has been and remains SEF’s core mission.
The stakes are high for all of us. Our democracy, the economy and indeed the vitality of our communities are all hinged to doing a much better job developing and educating young people in this country. Academic outcomes, college going and completion rates, employment levels and levels of civic engagement are all unacceptably low for young people under 25 years of age. For specific subgroups: African Americans, Hispanics and Latin Americans, Native Americans in particular, these metrics are disturbingly low. The good news is that the nation is now appropriately focused on improving school performance, raising high school graduation rates and increasing postsecondary degree completion.
SEF is meeting these challenges by launching new initiatives to refine and strengthen how we work on these issues. For instance, in the context of our continuing focus on accreditation and institutional effectiveness, we are paying specific attention to increasing student learning outcomes at Minority Serving Institutions. This same emphasis on improving learning outcomes for vulnerable children and underachieving students will permeate our work on education policy Pre-K through High School. Our leadership development work, which places diverse cohorts of college and graduate students in internships focused on education policy and social justice is one of the ways we tie all of our work together. Increasing the scale and scope of our leadership work is a priority for the Foundation.
While advancing an agenda of national significance, SEF will continue to place emphasis on the Southern United States, broadly conceived. Nowhere in the United States are the cultural and demographic shifts more rapid and pronounced than in this part of the country. Meeting the educational challenges associated with these shifts will be critical to our country’s future because we are past the days when we can grow the economy with low taxes and cheap labor. Employment and income will continue to move off shore if we fail to prepare our citizens for the knowledge-intensive jobs of the 21st century. Nor will we thrive as a society if our citizens are disengaged politically and if we cannot leverage the rapid flow of information toward understanding and tackling the social and technical challenges of our times (the environment, public health and safety, energy-independence, to name just a few).
We are especially excited to be launching this new website. We intend to use this site as an engine for engaging our partners and meeting our programmatic goals. Please visit this website often to learn what SEF is doing. We welcome any feedback you might have on how we can improve it.
Dr. Kent McGuire, president
Southern Education Foundation