Lunch & Learn | CREOKS Helps Fill the Gaps

Lunch & Learn’s kicked off at CREOKS, a behavioral health non-profit in located in Tulsa and serving the entire state. CREOKS has a number of school and home based services and were early on seen as an important partner for the initiative.

“From the very early stages, CREOKS was recommended to be a part of the conversation. Their outcome-based work with students in schools and homes show they help students improve in all areas of their lives.” said Monroe Nichols, Chief Operating Officer, IMPACT!Tulsa.

Nichols presented the education pipeline for the Tulsa area, including 15 school districts, 100+ non-profits, active private funding from the philanthropy community and the pipeline’s challenges, including historic cuts in public funding.

Tulsa area students face challenges as well.

“Students lacking proficient reading skills in the 3rd grade are 4x less likely to graduate, ” said Nichols. “This is increased to 13x less likely to graduate in economic disadvantaged areas. And by 2020, 65% of our workforce will need some form of post-secondary degree or certification. Given only 37% of the Tulsa population currently has an associates degree or higher, we have a lot of work to close this gap.”

Dan Cross, CREOKS Senior Director of Substance Abuse Services added, “One of the major problems is that kids don’t see a pathway to success that motivates them to continue and be successful in school and beyond.”

“There is a growing need with 3-4 yr olds. Right now, we’re providing staff in several head start programs,” said, Bret Black, CREOKS CEO.

CREOKS 4 -2Nichols then shared how Dallas is using shared aggregated data across 425 campuses representing 35,100 third graders. “Even though there is a 50 point gap in test scores, the data revealed there are students testing well even when experiencing extreme economic disadvantages. Their challenge was to identify what’s working and share it with schools who face the same type of challenges. They’ve realigned some services and in two years they’re reporting a 3% increase.”

Nichols closed with, “We don’t need a new program, we need to change the way we are working together. Ultimately, we want to engage the community to provide a pathway where all students are guaranteed a high quality education form cradle to career.”

Phil Black, Sr. Regional Director shared, “There have been lots of efforts in the past, typically they start with lot’s of support and then outside factors enter in and the work begins to stall. We need a separate entity to step in like a community partnership that will bring the various community partners together. IMPACT!tulsa provides that backbone support.”

Black continued, “This partnership has already started differently. With having so many community leaders, educators and provider in the same room, we all can contribute and help students. In the past, we’ve needed someone to eliminate barriers. With the right conditions, the right playing field we can help improve student achievement.”

Dan Cross agreed, “This a great place to start. A third party, non-partisan, that can support and hold all of us to the process and not get distracted by so many things that have slowed down past efforts.”

“This will help the community, and us, as providers, focus on milestones and outcomes.”

Wade Hunter, VP of Professional Services added, “I’m encouraged to see this is data-driven. Anytime we are committed to making data-driven decisions, we can move outcomes.”

Next steps included discussion around the six outcomes that will be measured, sharing aggregated data, identifying and sharing what’s working, and how community partners are vital to the success of the partnership.

We want to be involved and make a difference. We can help fill in the gaps, our data can help the community understand what additional services are working outside of the school and in the home.

Bret Black, CREOKS CEO

Great first Lunch & Learn, we looking forward to the rest of them this summer. See complete list here.

If your organization would like to host a Lunch & Learn contact Autumn Worthen, Director of Partner Engagement at or 918-631-4432.