Leveraging Community Partnerships for Integrated Student Support

Velma McBride Murry | Vanderbilt University
Reuben Jacobson | American University
Betheny Gross | Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington Bothell

Breaking Down the Issue

  • The pandemic revealed and exacerbated problems that have pushed schools and districts beyond their existing capacity to effectively respond.

    Partnerships between school districts and community organizations let schools draw on rooted community assets to confront key areas of concern, including basic family needs, technology access, childcare, and academic enrichment.

Strategies to Consider

  • Evidence supports the use of comprehensive school-site partnerships, such as full-service community schools, to leverage existing resources and provide a structure for families and community members to strengthen the school.

    Integrated or wraparound services, where schools partner with community organizations to provide students with direct nonacademic supports, also show meaningful evidence of success.

  • Extended learning time programs provided by community partner groups can be adapted in innovative ways to support students during the pandemic.
  • Community-based assets are able to coordinate their schoollevel efforts most effectively when supported by systemslevel coordinating infrastructure.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Community-based organizations will likely not be able to assist school districts in addressing additional needs during this period without additional resources.
  • Establishing partnerships on unspoken expectations, or without having full knowledge of the skills, capacities, and resources of new partners, can lead to misalignment on expectations and desired outcomes.
  • Systems that move forward to address new demands without assessing existing resources can fail to uncover assets that are already available in the broader community.