The GRAD Partnership Welcomes Two New Intermediary Partners

The GRAD Partnership for Student Success is pleased to announce its two newest Intermediaries, Missouri State University’s Center for Rural Education and the Arizona Rural School Association (ARSA). These two new Intermediaries join The University of West Alabama and California’s North State Together as part of the GRAD Partnership’s rural cohorts, an initiative led in conjunction with the Rural Schools Collaborative.

The GRAD Partnership and its Intermediaries work together to plan, implement, and sustain high-quality student success systems so that middle and high schools are prepared to graduate all students ready for the future. Intermediaries serve as regional catalysts for this work, and they advance the GRAD Partnership’s mission by reaching local schools, connecting with community resources, and building regional expertise to support ongoing student success work.

“It is very exciting to see the rapid uptake of student success systems in rural communities. The first two cohorts in Far Northern California and the Alabama/Mississippi Black Belt demonstrate the value of working with Intermediaries to expand the use of high quality student success systems in rural areas, and are highly effective examples for other geographic areas. These two additional cohorts in Arizona and Missouri will join our existing cohorts in further connecting the national discourse around student support with the rural lived experience.”

Bob Balfanz, Director of Everyone Graduates Center (EGC) at Johns Hopkins University

While local communities and schools directly benefit from Intermediaries’ support, serving as an Intermediary also brings value to the organizations serving in this role. Intermediaries grow new local and regional relationships that enhance their own missions, and they also garner increased visibility through collaborating with national partners with decades of experience in student success work. 

ARSA will partner with the University of Northern Arizona in developing and supporting their rural school network. “We are excited to engage in the work of the Grad Partnership,” said Melissa Sadorf, executive director for the Arizona Rural School Association. “In rural places, where the school is typically the heart of the community, strengthening our partnerships with parents and other stakeholders to help support our students is critical to the success of all.” 

Sadorf, who is also a rural school superintendent and serves as board president of the National Rural Education Association, added, “We look forward to serving as the conduit between a multitude of resources, best practices, and expertise and the experts in the field that are working with our rural youth. Ensuring that all of our students are on track to graduate means we have stronger, healthier and more vibrant rural communities.” 

Missouri State University’s Center for Rural Education was launched last year, and Dr. Barri Tinkler, Dean of MSU’s College of Education, notes the alignment of the Center’s mission and this role of a GRAD Partnership Intermediary. “GRAD Partnership is the perfect ‘inaugural’ project for the MSU Center for Rural Education because it allows us to work closely with some of our rural school partners to help them better meet the needs of their students.” Tinkler also noted that, “High school students who perform well and graduate have a better chance of attending college, which is important to us. It is also a great way to implement our public affairs mission in rural communities across Southwest Missouri.”

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