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Two Ky. groups merge to focus on education

Two nationally recognized Kentucky non-profit organizations have merged in an initiative to improve the performance of schools across the state.

The NewCities Institute, created in 2001 by the Kentucky League of Cities, and the Partnership for Successful Schools, launched by state business leaders in 1991, announced Monday that they have merged to form the Partnership at NewCities.

Since its creation, the NewCities Institute has helped towns around Kentucky make key decisions about meeting social and economic needs. The Partnership for Successful Schools has spent more than 20 years working with schools, employers and communities with the aim of creating a stronger Kentucky work force.

Representatives of the new Partnership at NewCities said the organization is the first of its kind in Kentucky. It will work with individual communities, coordinating work-force, economic development, education and government efforts to raise the performance of schools, they said.

Sylvia Lovely, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, said the Partnership for Successful Schools approached the league about the possibility of a merger. The process took about a year, she said.

According to Lovely, the new partnership's first step will be to select 10 pilot cities for educational programs that already are in place.

"It will be some real, practical, on-the-street kinds of things, built around this kind of holistic view that communities need to take back the night," Lovely said.

Regular evaluations will be a key part of the new program, according to Tom Prather, executive vice president of the NewCities Institute.

"We will track progress in collaborating communities across Kentucky and provide specific reports on what is being accomplished in terms of community engagement as well as school improvement," Prather said. "This type of information is critical to ensuring a meaningful, successful effort."