In 1995, representatives from business-supported, public policy centers in six southeastern states met in Columbia, SC, to discuss the feasibility of creating a network focused on school reform. The concept struck a responsive chord and, since then, the network has grown and solidified
Impetus was provided by a school/business partnership initiative begun in the early nineties by the federally funded educational laboratory for the Southeast, SERVE, which contracted the Public School Forum of NC to coordinate the initiative. The Atlanta-based BellSouth Foundation added financial support that made it possible for the Columbia Group to begin its work.
The Columbia Group meets semi-annually to share best practices and innovative educational policy initiatives. The Group is also used as a sounding board for the Business Roundtable and frequently serves as a point of entry for national organizations wanting to expand their work into the southeast. In recent years, the Columbia Group has given technical support to states attempting to create Columbia Group-like organizations. As a result, new organizations have now been created in Tennessee and Louisiana.
The AT&T Foundation financially supports the work of the Columbia Group, making it possible to strengthen educational improvement efforts across the region.