The Historic Southside's Village

Ethan Weber is the Fortress Community Relations Coordinator. He serves on the Van Zandt-Guinn Site-Based Decision Making Team and co-chairs the new Historic Southside Education Committee.

Fortress has always believed in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s not solely the parent’s responsibility or the school’s responsibility or our responsibility, but rather the entire community that is responsible for the education and growth of each child. So when our two lead staff members were asked to co-chair an education committee for the neighborhood that we serve, Historic Southside, we couldn’t turn it down! 

The education committee has been charged with a pretty simple goal: to convene neighborhood partners in education to work together to increase educational achievement and opportunities for children in the neighborhood. Our specific focus will be on literacy and how to prepare all of the students in the neighborhood to read on level by 3rd grade.  This goal is in line with the recent Fort Worth Independent School District goal of 100% of 3rd graders reading on level by 2025. This is an important milestone as students who cannot read by this point face long odds to eventual graduation and success as an adult.

At our first meeting this morning we had partners from three neighborhood organizations -- Fortress YDC, Southside Community Center, and UCC Bethlehem Center -- and our local elementary school (Van-Zandt Guinn) in attendance. We came up with four goals that we have as a committee for this school year:

  1. To continue to take a holistic approach to improving literacy outcomes for children in the Historic Southside community
  2. To promote community involvement through ongoing volunteer opportunities
  3. To support Van Zandt-Guinn and district efforts to create substantial gains in reading and all core subjects
  4. To collaborate on community outreach efforts and align calendars to prevent duplication of events
  5. To provide a united front for the community about the efforts being made to improve literacy and educational outcomes

After our first meeting, we now have some tangible ways to move forward and we are excited to see what happens when we form a united coalition to get all of the kids in our neighborhood reading on level by 3rd grade.