The Education Alliance was established in July 1983 as the first statewide public education fund in the nation. West Virginia business executives saw the need to help businesses understand the importance of financially and resourcefully supporting the state's public schools and to give business a voice in public education. We hope you enjoy these highlights from our history.
The 1980s: The Formative Years
1983: The Education Alliance was founded through a grant from the Ashland Oil Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, FMC Corporation and New York Community Trust as the “West Virginia Education Fund.” Mini-Grants for Classroom Projects was established as its first program.
1984: The Partnerships in Education program was established.
1986: The organization began recognizing exemplary educators with Outstanding Educator Merit Awards.
1987: The College Bound program was established to increase the number of high school graduates continuing to postsecondary education.
1988: The College Bound program expanded to include the new components of Day on Campus and College Sort.
1989: The College Bound program expanded to include Think College Grants. Parental Involvement Awards were created to increase parental involvement with schools.
The 1990s: Progressive Success
1991: Schools Ahead–21 replaced the Outstanding Educator Merit Awards. Partnerships in Education first existed in all 55 counties. The Education Policy Research Institute and the West Virginia Business and Education Alliance were created.
1992: Read Aloud West Virginia became a program of the organization.
1994: The Partnerships in Education Gold Star Awards were created. The first Read Aloud West Virginia conference was held.
1996: The Working on Wellness, or WOW!, program was established. Tech Corps–West Virginia became an initiative of the organization. The Lewis McManus Distinguished Volunteer Award was created.
1997: The name of the organization was officially changed to The Education Alliance–Business and Community for Public Schools, Inc. The Business Council for Education initiative replaced the West Virginia Business and Education Alliance program.
1999: 100% of West Virginia public schools were first linked to at least one business partner. Books! Books! Books! was initiated as a grant program to encourage elementary schools to create school libraries or enhance existing ones. The first Capital City Pumpkin Drop was held at the Capitol Complex in Charleston, W.Va. Senator and Mrs. Robert C. Byrd and artist Kathy Mattea were honored as the Graduates of Distinction inaugural class.
The 2000s: A Decade Spent Creating Change
2001: The Partnerships in Education program reached the 2,000–partner mark. The Education Alliance played host to its first Read to Me! Day activities with 6,000 volunteers reading to 100,000 children. The Apple Legacy was initiated as a means to thank major contributors.
2002: The Education Alliance was one of five national organizations awarded grants from Public Education Network to implement the Teaching Quality Initiative.
2003: The Education Alliance's analysis of the No Child Left Behind law and data was featured statewide.
2004: The Education Alliance provided research information that helped create WV House Bill 4669, which addressed the needs of high minority, low socio-economic status schools. The national publication, Education Week, carried an article about The Education Alliance Student Voice research on June 23, 2004.
2005: The Middle School Student Voice research spawned community forums to discuss students' perceptions of the achievement gap.
2006: The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) selected The Education Alliance to pilot the State Scholars Initiative in four West Virginia counties. The Education Alliance was honored as the nation's most outstanding local education fund by the Public Education Network on November 12, 2006, in Washington, D.C.
2007: The Education Alliance launched the SEEDS Program in partnership with the Office of Governor Joe Manchin III to attentively address school improvement at the administrative level. With funding from several community foundations, technology mini-grants became available in 11 West Virginia counties.
2008: AT&T awarded a four-year high school retention grant to The Education Alliance. This systemic initiative, called Walk the Talk, addresses the core issues of the high school completion challenge with several proven practices. Walk the Talk pairs caring business mentors with at–risk students in Capital, Riverside, Saint Albans, South Charleston and Wheeling Park high schools.
2010: The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation awarded a grant to The Education Alliance to launch a new online, career-based mentoring program in West Virginia public high schools. WV eMentoring pairs the traditional mentoring concept with online activities that keep students engaged and help volunteers get involved without taking time away from work. Through WV eMentoring, ninth- through 12th-grade students select an eMentor from a pool of caring adult volunteers whose work experience interests the student.
2011: The Frontline Network was created to to address a sobering statistic for West Virginia students: One out of every four ninth grade students will not complete high school within 4 years, and some never do. Identifying struggling students early and giving them the tools to succeed is something all West Virginians have a stake in.
2012: The Education Alliance received a grant from Volunteer West Virginia, the state's commission for National and Community Service, to start an AmeriCorps*State program. AmeriCorps on the Frontline provides mentoring at-risk students designed to improve their academic engagement, school attendance and reduce disciplinary referrals.
2013: The Education Alliance took a more active role as a policy advocate. During the 2013 legislative session, The Education Alliance promoted key priorities: 180-days of instruction, third-grade literacy and school accountability. As a result, Senate 359 was enacted to require all West Virginia children receive 180 days of instruction and the State Board of Education was directed to ensure that all children can read by third grade. In addition, The Education Alliance conducted its first annual Education Summit in collaboration with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. The summit engaged business, education, legislative and community leaders in a focused discussion on improving education outcomes across the state.
2014: Expanding our statewide footprint was a primary focus in 2014. The organization added part-time regional staff, doubled our social media followers, and kicked off our new speaker series, EDTalks, in two of the fastest-growing sections of the state: the north-central and eastern panhandle regions. By designing programs specifically for these areas, the organization is targeted to have a more pervasive statewide impact and help address the needs of all West Virginia students.