In many ways, the pressure’s on for today’s schools. In an effort to meet not just the academic, but also the developmental needs of their precious students, teachers, staff and administration are being asked to do more with less.
We’ve come so far from understanding school just as reading, writing and arithmetic. Today’s schools also focus on social emotional learning, leadership and character building. Arts and athletic programs are essential, but expensive. Providing a well-rounded education out of one building seems more and more challenging. In some ways, our kids are better off because of the diversity of learning experiences they’re being offered, but we all know that education needs help.
How Community Organizations Can Help
And this is where you come in. Building partnerships with schools is the future of community organizations because it is truly a win-win, with the greatest win of all being our children’s well-being.
So what could this partnership look like? Here are some ideas, just to name a few:1
- use of neighborhood facilities and equipment
- sharing educational resources
- collaborative fundraising and grant applications
- volunteer assistance
- mentoring and training from professionals and others with special expertise
- information sharing and dissemination
- shared recognition and public relations
- shared responsibility for planning, implementation and evaluation of programs and services
- expanding opportunities for internships and jobs
- building a sense of community
3 Easy Places to Start
That’s a long list, and some may seem like lofty goals. So let’s dive deeper into three partnership opportunities you can initiate – right now – that can bring about maximum benefit for all involved.
Facilities: You know one of the most important elements of your business is your facility. It drives what you are able to offer and who you are able to reach. Limited space means limited opportunity. Schools face the same predicament. Offering your indoor and outdoor space, in exchange for a school’s outdoor field, gymnasium, computer labs or swimming pool can open up your offerings catalog and connect you directly to a large base of families in your community.
Communication: Schools must stay in regular contact with students and parents in order to run effectively. Most have robust email, newsletter and online communication programs in place. Instead of recreating the wheel, ask to promote your your offerings (particularly those the school cannot offer themselves) in their newsletter, online portal and parent communications.
Sports: According to NRPA, sports were ranked as the most popular out-of-school activity for school-aged children. In many communities, intramural district-wide leagues are the best way to go. We’ve heard time and time again, that it doesn’t matter where or how the sport is organized as long as kids gets the opportunity to play. Keeping it in the community – in the neighborhoods where the kids live – is the best way to go. And that’s exactly where schools and their fields and courts are.
With the first half of the school year coming to a close, think about how you can initiate or improve a mutual partnership with your schools in 2017. Working together, instead of recreating the wheel, will benefit not only your organization, but your community as a whole.