What is it?
Schools are one part in a larger social system that includes families and communities, which are equally responsible for the development of youth. School-community partnerships, or collaborations, are more than just informal links. An effective collaboration is a formal agreement among participants to establish an autonomous structure to accomplish goals that would be difficult to achieve by any of the participants alone. The collaboration requires infrastructure that ensures participants ability to accomplish a shared vision and meet a set of goals.
Establishing long-term collaborations includes commitment, vision, cohesive policy, and systematic changes to develop formal and institutionalized sharing of a wider range of resources.
Strong school and community collaboration is a key strategy for efforts to generate essential interventions to address barriers to learning, enhance healthy development, and strengthen communities.
Why is it important?
Partnerships can include service agencies, businesses, community-based organizations, post-secondary institutions, workforce development centers, religious and civic groups, programs at parks and libraries, and any other facilities that can be used for recreation, learning and literacy, youth development and enrichment, vocational education, and economic development. The political realities of local control have further expanded collaborative bodies to encompass local policymakers, representatives of families, nonprofessionals, volunteers, and, indeed, all who are willing to contribute their talents and resources.
The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network has information, resources, model programs and webcasts regarding school-community collaboration.
3 Bold Steps provides strategies, tools and resources for school leaders to effectively partner with community organizations.
The Coalition for Community Schools provides information, networking, videos and resources for fostering partnerships between schools and community resources.