Together for Students Initiative recognizes community-wide education partnerships
- Ten organizations have received awards of about $150,000 to support community-wide efforts to help students achieve from the Together for Students Initiative — a project of the Coalition for Community Schools, Communities in Schools and StriveTogether that has received financial support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Ford Foundation.
- The recipients include United Way organizations, community school efforts and education foundations, and each is working with multiple partners to demonstrate “strong school district and cross-sector partnerships, the ability to scale their plans, empowerment of family and student voice and a clear plan for identifying the best supports for students,” according to a press release.
- Among the 10 winners, which were chosen from 86 applicants, are Metro Nashville Public Schools, Thrive Chicago and Fresno Cradle to Career in California. Tom Lasley, CEO of Learn to Earn Dayton (Ohio), another recipient, said in this article that his organization has worked to create partnerships focused on the issues of kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading, 8th grade math, high school graduation and graduating from college or earning a credential.
Most education leaders recognize that schools alone don’t have sufficient resources and expertise to address many of the issues that keep students from succeeding, especially those in low-income communities. The growth of community schools in recent years and other partnership efforts between schools, universities, nonprofits, and social and health services are evidence of this shift.
A recent case study from the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, for example, highlighted the Tacoma (Wash.) Whole Child Initiative, where the school district, city government, several city agencies, the YMCA and a variety of local nonprofits collaborate to provide wraparound and extended-day programs. The group sets goals in the areas of academic achievement, partnership, early learning and safety.
The report also includes a list of characteristics that help such partnerships succeed, including having a common language, including partners that have a record of success, setting clear goals, having open communication, and committing to multi-year partnerships to provide continuity for students.
In Milwaukee, the planning grant will help the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County make progress on its three priorities of "real-time resource coordination/alignment, developing an educational equity agenda and data-sharing," Ryan Hurley, who directs the community school partnership there, said in an email. The other five recipients are Communities in Schools of Tennessee, Vancouver (Wash.) Public Schools, the D.C. Public Education Fund, and the United Ways of Central Alabama and the Greater Lehigh Valley (Pa.).
Follow Linda Jacobson on Twitter