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The Secret Sauce in Loudoun’s Recipe for Success? Our Partners

Amazon Web Services’ partnership with LEF has been nominated for the Virginia School Board Honor Roll.

By Danielle Nadler

We cannot do this work on our own.

That is the mantra of our team at the Loudoun Education Foundation. Every day, we work to bring on partners – businesses, fellow nonprofits, and individuals – who want to invest their time, talent, and treasure in improving the lives of public school students and educators.

This past week, I had an incredible opportunity to share with other education foundation leaders from around the country how Loudoun County has truly created a recipe for success in building partnerships.

I was joined at the ImpactED 2024 conference by Renée Dawson, LCPS’ Director of Teaching and Learning for Community Connections and Programs. Together, we shared the strategic moves that both the Foundation and the school system have made to improve our community outreach.

We Invite Partners to the Table

Health and education industry leads talk about connecting student interest with workforce needs at a round table event in November 2023.

The example of success that we pointed to was the creation of the Health and Medical Sciences Academy. While the academy will open in two school sites this fall, the groundwork for the program began years ago.

In 2021, Renée’s office sent a survey to all LCPS families asking what career-focused course offerings they would like to see, and one of the top requests was for health and medical sciences. That student interest aligned with workforce industry research from George Mason University which confirmed a major shortage in health and medical talent.

The student interest and the workforce needs were clear. Next, we invited industry and higher education leaders to the table – quite literally. We held round table discussions and asked the local experts in the health and medical industries to sit down with college, university, and K-12 educators and talk through what skills students will need to be college- and career-ready.

At each of these round table events, we invited those in the room to dream big. And they did! Picture nearly 40 business and education leaders, leaning across huge poster boards, jotting down ideas for course offerings, clinical site experiences, and industry credentials. Their input informed the curriculum and credential offerings of the future academy.

We Ask for Their Support

For each of the business leaders at the round table events, we extended a clear invitation to partner with LCPS and the Foundation in our work – and each of them responded with a resounding “yes.” Some committed to letters of support, to bolster our grant requests. Others are committed to providing students with clinical work experiences. And some donated funds and equipment. All of it ensured that the Health and Medical Sciences (HAMSci) Academy would open years earlier than would otherwise be possible.

We Celebrate Their Partnership

LEF Executive Director Danielle Nadler and  LCPS’ Director of Teaching and Learning Renée Dawson shared at ImpactED 2024 about the why and how of building partnerships.

Year-round, our team tries to be intentional about thanking those who come alongside us to support our mission. But each spring, there is one day when we make a special effort to celebrate our partnerships that impact thousands of students’ lives.

It's today, at the School Business Partnership Breakfast, hosted by the School Business Partnership Council with support from LEF and LCPS.

It will be a chance to gather together not to work on the next big project, but to reflect on the work that is already underway.

Amazon, for example, delivers meal bags for free to 1,300 students at 40 schools each week through our Fueled program. Inova Loudoun Hospital is not alone working with us to launch and support the HAMSci Academy, they also fund mental health programming in elementary schools throughout Loudoun County.

Other partners that will be in the spotlight are the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Join me in thanking and celebrating all of the ways these organizations – and dozens of others – roll up their sleeves to ensure students have what they need to excel in the classroom and beyond.

We cannot do this work without them.


Contact Us

For more than 30 years, the Loudoun Education Foundation has demonstrated how community support can make meaningful educational impacts in the classroom and beyond. As an independent nonprofit, we engage our community to invest in critical and innovative programs that foster academic success and the well-being of students and educators. We fund programs that stimulate students’ curiosity, create exceptional learning opportunities, and provide needed resources to educators, students and families.

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