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City of Somerville

SomerPromise and a Framework for Student Success


City of Somerville


SomerPromise and a Framework for Student Success


How can a city government articulate a vision for student success and establish a coordinated, community-wide effort to raise the necessary resources to achieve such a vision?

Children Playing in Water



The leadership of Somerville, MA was analyzing how to improve educational achievement across a diverse student population with a wide array of socio-economic backgrounds and a wide range of past academic performance.

To better enable Somerville students to reach their full potential, the City of Somerville began exploring how it could leverage its strong, dynamic leadership to raise additional resources to continue improving the educational outcomes of its children and youth. The city knew that achieving better outcomes universally requires the effective engagement of families, community partners, schools, and nonprofit services. While conversations around how to accomplish this had already begun, the city lacked clarity on how best to galvanize resources to support the success of all students in a consistent and sustainable manner.


The Root Cause team provided guidance to the City of Somerville and Somerville Public Schools (SPS) on how to support a community-wide effort and developed a plan for a clear path forward. First, through the SomerPromise initiative, Root Cause worked with the City and SPS to develop a Framework for Student Success, which defined key desired outcomes along the continuum from early childhood to college and career. Then, Root Cause helped city leaders clarify the overall vision and purpose of SomerPromise to focus the initiative on shifting behavior and aligning resources across sectors to address the components of the Framework. Through this process, SomerPromise articulated its commitment to advancing evidence-based strategies at the interface of home, school, and community that complement and go beyond what schools are able to do on their own. To prepare SomerPromise to raise resources for this effort, Root Cause determined the optimal organizational structure and defined key priority areas on which to concentrate first.

Root Cause developed a plan for SomerPromise to publicize and generate interest in the initiative. To estimate the size of the donor market for such an effort, our team conducted research on giving potential in Somerville and researched similar education-related funds in other Massachusetts cities and towns. Root Cause also developed briefs that provide more detail on specific priority areas of SomerPromise, as well as a comprehensive summary of SomerPromise’s organizational structure and overall strategy.

Goals & Results

At the project’s end in 2013, SomerPromise emerged well-positioned to align and mobilize resources to address the academic, social, and environmental factors that affect student success. The Somerville Mayor and Superintendent approved our recommendations, and SomerPromise leadership began testing ways to generate interest, support, and better coordination of efforts across the city.

SomerPromise remains an important hub for Somerville’s cradle-to-career activities and an integral part of the City’s Department of Health and Human Services. The initiative has established Somerville Hub, an online resource and community effort that was originally intended for the early learning community and has since been expanded to serve children and youth of all ages and their families. In addition, SomerPromise continues to work on resource alignment and how best to leverage public and private resources for the benefit of all children and families in the city.


City of Somerville
Maximizing Children’s Potential: The Somerville Five-Year Plan for Early Education and Care

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SomerPromise: A Campaign for Student Success
Kindergarten Readiness Prospectus

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SomerPromise: A Campaign for Student Success
SomerPromise Readiness Prospectus

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About the Partner

City of Somerville

Somerville is a city located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, just two miles north of Boston. Occupying slightly over 4 square miles, its population of 78,901 (as of the 2014 census) and a myriad of immigrants from all over the world make Somerville the most densely populated community in New England and one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation. Rich in both history and culture, the city houses numerous intriguing sites, businesses, and restaurants for every style.

The Somerville Promise Alliance (SomerPromise) is a community-wide effort that focuses on aligning and mobilizing resources to address the academic, social, and environmental factors that affect student success. SomerPromise is committed to equity and excellence in children’s lives during and out of school, from cradle to career.  Working in collaboration with our many partners, SomerPromise supports:

Research and Data:  SomerPromise identifies gaps, needs, and trends affecting student success, provides research to support the facts, and tracks and shares data.

Funding:  SomerPromise researches grants and coordinates grant writing among our partners. In addition, they provide seed funding for sustainable projects in line with our key areas of focus.

Facilitation and Outreach:  SomerPromise convenes meetings to engage diverse perspectives and organize coordinated efforts. They support cross-sector community engagement efforts, and they work hard to increase the visibility of key topics, needs, solutions, and support.

Programs and Resources:  SomerPromise assists in piloting new initiatives and developing existing programs.

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