Rooting Ourselves in Mississippi | IDEA

Rooting Ourselves in Mississippi

Posted by Dana Bennis on Jun 21, 2016 - 01:30 PM

For more than 6 years, IDEA has worked nationally and locally to raise up the voices of communities, young people, parents, and educators and support change in education that's grounded in justice, equity, and democracy. We've aimed to support existing local work through connections, trainings and events, and story-telling, while also staying tuned to and contributing to the national dialogue on education and school change. 

While that work continues, today we are excited to announce a new program focused specifically on school transformation in Mississippi, a state that means a great deal to us as an organization - the state we are based and where our Executive Director and many allies call home. This is long-term work, and work that we hope will not only have an impact in Mississippi but that can also influence and impact educational change throughout the country.

Here's the press release with more info:


For Immediate Release

Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) to develop community led policy agenda through community stories and experiences toward improving outcomes for Mississippi children.


Jackson, Miss. -- Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) based in Jackson, MS has begun a project to incorporate community voices and stories into local education policy agendas and action. The project is funded by a two-year $208,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and will serve the counties of Sunflower/Bolivar, Hinds and Harrison.


“This project is important because it attempts to address the need to involve the most impacted voices and people, especially young people and parents, in providing the solutions to the problems their communities face,” says IDEA Executive Director Albert Sykes. “We’ll use natural community spaces to draw out real stories and experiences and help people translate those stories into policy recommendations and local campaigns.”


Through this project, the Mississippi Institute for School Transformation (M.I.S.T.), IDEA will function as a capacity-building partner by facilitating community dinners, partnering communities with policy analysts, and providing ongoing support and leadership development opportunities so that youth and community members devise and implement campaigns and gain the skills to be advocates for change in their local areas.


“For those of us who believe authentic engagement, community voice and deep partnerships are critical ingredients for school transformation, this project comes along at the perfect time,” says IDEA Board Chair Kwesi Rollins. “We are certainly grateful to partner with the Kellogg Foundation in this important work.”


“Since our founding six years ago, IDEA’s intention has been to support local communities across the country to share their stories, advocate for change, and connect with others doing similar work for educational equity and justice,” says IDEA Director of Learning Dana Bennis. “With this project we’re excited to bring that learning together with powerful community-led efforts of young people, parents, and educators in Mississippi.”


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About IDEA: Founded in 2010, the mission of IDEA is mobilizing action to advance meaningful learning and build a more just and sustainable democracy. Our vision is of an engaged, informed, and energized majority that’s clear about the role of education in a just society, and where enough people and communities in the United States and Puerto Rico have the tools, visions, stories, and strategies to create equitable and sustainable educational experiences and systems. For more information, visit

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

Albert Sykes,

Dana Bennis,