Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Leveraging Funding and Community Partnerships for Student Success

The coalition for Community Schools recently released Financing Community Schools: Leveraging Resources to Support Student Success, the first of its Building Capacity for Community Schools Series. This report looks at how community schools finance their work; describes the resources, partnerships, and activities community schools generate with the dollars they have; and examines where the funding has come from and the ways community schools have been able to leverage funding to achieve results.

Many advocates and community leaders have recognized that strengthening families and communities is critical to ensuring kids enter school ready to learn and able to succeed. Community schools is one model that has been able to produce positive results for children by bringing social supports and services into schools. Community schools have been shown to result in raising individual student grades and standardized test scores, improving attendance, increasing graduation rates, reducing behavioral or disciplinary problems, and increasing access to health and other preventive care services. Additionally, families and communities experience improved communication and engagement with schools, increased stability and access to basic needs, and greater community stability and safety.

Strategic partnerships are critical to making this approach work as partners work together to share and leverage resources as well as their expertise and practice to improving outcomes for kids. Financing Community Schools found that community schools appear better prepared to survive the ebb and flow of grant funding and budget fluctuations due to the various sources of support from key partners. This multiple source funding strategy makes community schools also more likely to expand the services and activities available and connect to a wider range of technical assistance, training and other operational support.

While partnerships are instrumental to achieving results; keeping a partnership committed towards a common vision is not an easy task. Achieving results requires schools, school districts, and their partners to:

  • be more transparent about how current investment and interventions are (or are not) contributing to the results the community is seeking;
  • have an opportunity to think individually and together about the capacity they are going to need to form the pipeline and focus on results over time; and
  • commit to making changes and building capacity to develop the supports and services necessary to achieve results.

The Providence Public School District’s Full Service Community School’s project is one example of a school district and community partners coming together to develop a result’s based framework to ensure student success. The Providence School District (PPSD) realized that fulfilling its mission that all Providence students are prepared to succeed in the nation’s colleges and universities in their chosen professions would require a focus on improving PPSD’s core systems, building internal capacity to ensure student success, and engaging purposefully with strategic partners to support the community’s collective ability to support the success of all students. Coming together, Providence school and community partners were able to develop a strategic framework for student success that includes both the results and indicators desired for students and the approaches and strategies needed to get there. Moving forward, PPSD can continue to refine their results framework and cultivate the partnerships needed to ensure the desired results.

For more information on the model in Providence, please visit PPSD's website and Providence Full Service Community Schools.

To learn about how to build effective, accountable partnerships, the following resources may be helpful:

For more information about community schools:

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