WASHINGTON – The Department of Education will work with 14 American cities in a partnership to improve early childhood education, after-school programs and postsecondary opportunities, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Monday.

The partnership agreement, signed by the agency and the National League of Cities, would include local government as well as community organizations, Duncan said. He announced the plans with National League of Cities President Chris Coleman, the mayor of Saint Paul, Minn., at the organization’s annual conference.

“The more we can start to co-locate services, bring in nonprofits, bring in social service agencies, bring in faith-based institutions, there’s a chance not to just educate our children but to educate their entire families,” he said.

As part of the partnership, the National League of Cities will host “community conversations” in 14 cities to discuss educational practices to raise standards and close the academic achievement gap, as well as how to improve students’ lives outside school, Duncan said. The latter includes weekend and summer activities and social and emotional learning.

Key topics will include college and other postsecondary opportunities as well as early childhood education.

The cities hosting discussions include Dayton, Ohio, Gary, Ind., Louisville, Ky., and Saint Paul, Minn.

“We want to be out in as many places as we can,” Duncan said.

The agreement is one of several recent partnerships the Education Department has made with local governments. In January, President Barack Obama announced five Promise Zones, where federal workers will work with local governments and organizations to improve safety, housing, education and economic development.

The department has also heavily emphasized early childhood education. In the president’s budget proposal for fiscal 2015, $750 million would be allocated to preschool education for all four year olds.