Michele Cahill Joins Carnegie Corporation

Michele Cahill, a leader in school-community collaboration to improve public education and an expert on youth development and after-school programs, is joining Carnegie Corporation of New York as senior program officer in the education division, responsible for the Corporation¡s grants to improve the educational performance of urban school districts. Her appointment will take effect August 1.

Most recently Cahill has been a founder and director of the Youth Development Institute of the Fund for the City of New York and a Fund Vice President. The Fund is a private operating foundation launched by the Ford Foundation in 1968 to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations throughout New York City. The Institute conducts projects with schools, community-based organizations, and agencies aimed at increasing youth development opportunities in New York and other cities.

Prior to joining the Fund in 1991, Cahill was Vice President and Director of School and Community Services programs at the Academy for Educational Development. In both organizations, she has acquired broad experience working with more than 20 school districts in shaping school improvement programs.

Cahill was chosen from a field of more than 300 candidates for the position, noted Vartan Gregorian, the Corporation¡s president. "We appointed her both because of her innovative ideas and achievements in building public-private partnerships in education and because she brings a youth perspective to education reform. These combined strengths will be a great advantage to the Corporation as we explore ways to scale up successful change from individual schools to the district level. We are very pleased to have her on board."

Commented Cahill, "We want to take what we have learned about accountability, best practices, higher expectations of students and schools, and leadership support and increase the dialogue as well as spread the knowledge within and beyond the larger school community. A foundation like Carnegie Corporation has the independence and flexibility to think outside the traditional mechanisms and can identify and provide strategic support to innovative leadership. We may need to think about accountability as generative rather than as means only of ensuring compliance, for example. At Carnegie, we will be able to take such ideas and experiment with a variety of approaches to positive change."

One of the Youth Development Institute¡s large-scale efforts has been to consult with the New York City on the Beacon school initiative, currently consisting of 75 school-based community centers funded by the City¡s Department of Youth and Community Development. The Institute operates the Beacon network through which practitioners meet monthly to share knowledge about good practice, address implementation problems, identify staff development needs, and address policy issues.

Under Cahill, the Institute has also promoted adaptation of Beacon programs in other cities, provided technical assistance in the implementation phase, and articulated a theoretical underpinning for the model. Currently the Institute is managing the co-sponsorship of an independent evaluation of Beacon being conducted by the Academy for Educational Development.

Commenting on Beacon and other schools-change programs that she has organized and managed, Cahill said, "I have been challenged by the tremendous barriers faced by low-performing schools within districts. This has spurred my participation in national efforts for information exchange, problem-solving, and advocacy of best practices and deepened my experience in bringing about reforms and scaling up. I am also convinced of the importance of youth development approaches in after-school education in unlocking some of the potential in schools, and I look forward to applying this experience as a program officer at Carnegie Corporation."

At the Academy for Educational Development from 1985 to 1991, Cahill was responsible for developing or managing all program areas concerning school reform, the prevention of adolescent pregnancy, and school dropout. Among other actions, she co-founded the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research. Beginning in 1985 she was the Academy¡s Senior Program Officer and Program Director for School and Community Services, heading two major national demonstration projects: the Urban Middle Schools Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program and the Dropout Prevention Collaboratives. In 1989 she was appointed Vice President and Director of School and Community Services, serving also, between 1991 and 1993, as a Senior Consultant to the Academy¡s Center for Youth Development and Policy Research.

Cahill¡s pursuit of higher and advanced education has been interspersed with her professional career. While an undergraduate at St. Peter¡s College in Jersey City, NJ, she was a "street worker" with El Centro Catolico, seeking to reengage school dropouts in educational programs and community improvement. After receiving a B.A. degree in Urban Studies in 1970, she went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, receiving an M.A. degree in Urban Affairs in 1972. After a one-year appointment as a Revson Fellow on the Future of the City of New York during 1984-85, she entered a doctoral program in Social Policy and Planning at Columbia University¡s School of Social Work, earning 36 credits.

Beginning in 1971, she taught Urban Studies at St. Peter¡s College, serving successively as Director of Field Work, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy (tenured in 1978), and Director of the Urban Studies Program until 1982 when she joined the Women¡s Education Institute in New York City as Director of its Communities Project. While at the Institute for two years, she initiated and managed projects concerning public policy in the areas of urban poverty, economic conditions of women, and educational improvement.

During 1980-81 while teaching at St. Peter¡s College, she became a Mina Shaughnessy Scholar, awarded a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Office of Education in recognition of her contributions as co-founder of a Public Policy Program developing effective methods of teaching social science to nontraditional students with poor academic preparation for college.

After leaving the Women¡s Education Institute in 1984, Cahill became a consultant to the Ford Foundation¡s Urban Poverty Program, focusing during the year 1985 on aspects of welfare policy, adolescent pregnancy, youth employment, and child care, before joining the Academy for Educational Development in October 1985.

Cahill is one of the founders and is a board member of the Partnership for After School Education and a board member of the After School Corporation. She also serves as an advisor on youth development and community programs to many national organizations and to federal, state, and local government, including the Forum on Adolescence, National Academy of Sciences; the International Learning Group, International Youth Foundation; the Coalition for Community Schools; and the Revson Fellows program, Columbia University, among other professional activities.

She is a widely published author, preparing many articles and reports on school and community partnerships, technical assistance strategies, youth programs, and youth development approaches to education policies.

Carnegie Corporation is a grantmaking foundation established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911. Its grant budget for fiscal year 1999 is $60 million. The current market value of its portfolio is $1.55 billion as of March 31, 1999. Under Vartan Gregorian, who became president in 1997, the Corporation is developing new grant programs in higher and precollege education, university and library strengthening in Commonwealth Africa, and intergroup relations as well as continuing to evolve its existing programs in early childhood education and development, campaign finance reform, and international peace and security.