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A Message from Director Cyekeia Lee

July 12, 2017

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

At its last regular meeting, The Learning Network's Leadership Council made the difficult decision to cease operations of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo. We will officially close on August 31, 2017. As The Learning Network's anchor entity, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation supports this decision.

The decision was based on a combination of challenges facing the initiative: lack of long-term financial sustainability, slow progress due to complexity and scale, and limited overall impact.

As you may recall, The Learning Network was launched in 2011 with a vision to create a community where every student can reach full learning potential and a mission to achieve this goal by connecting excellent educators to a caring and engaged community. Although our direct work ends, we believe this bold experiment succeeded in many ways and the legacy of our work will continue to positively impact students of all ages for many years to come.

Kalamazoo County is filled with excellent educators and with public, private and nonprofit institutions dedicated to helping local students at every stage of their development. We're proud to have been part of this work for six years. And we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each of our partner organizations and the thousands of individuals who contributed their time, talent and treasure.

Yes, this initiative was difficult work and sometimes a seemingly impossible task. Among the lessons we take with us is this: small and nimble can often achieve greater results more quickly than large initiatives. And as our collaborative has struggled, many other community programs have become stronger. The Kalamazoo Promise, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, a variety of Kalamazoo RESA programs, and efforts such as KC Ready 4s, for example, are all experiencing increased success. We're proud to have been partners at the table of each of these programs and we wish them continued success.

We're developing a final report to reflect on how well we achieved the goals we set for ourselves. We believe the lessons we learned can benefit others and we'll share the report once it's completed. And finally, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation remains committed to supporting education programs that remove barriers to learning and increase access to high quality education for all community members.

On a personal note, it has been a privilege to work in a community so committed to learning.

Thank you.

My best,

Cyekeia Lee