Forms and Roles of Community Involvement in School Partnerships

Traditionally, families and schools have been viewed as partners who have the greatest effect on children.  Communities, however, play a significant role in supporting schools, families, and children.  Our communities are concerned with the quality of their schools and the success of those schools demands resources beyond the scope of schools and families.

School-community partnerships may be described as the connections between schools and community individuals, organizations, and businesses that are forged to directly or indirectly promote students' social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development (Sanders, M.  "Community Involvement in School Improvement: The Little Extra That Makes a Big Difference," p31. School, Family, and Community Partnerships.)

Communities make a positive difference for children and families when they connect around common values, form meaningful relationships with each other, and provide resources that help kids flourish in life.  Community involvement in school-community partnerships may include organizations or institutions of higher education, government, health care, faith-based, non-profits, corporations, and small businesses.  These partnerships may take several forms:
  • Student-centered activities include those providing direct support to students, which may include mentoring, tutoring, job-shadowing, and incentives, awards, and scholarships.
  • Family-centered activities are those that parents or families as the primary focus.  This direct support may include, parenting workshops, adult education, incentives, and social events.
  • School-centered activities are those that benefit the school as a whole, such as beautification projects, donation of school equipment and material, or volunteering time.
  • Community-centered activities have as their primary focus the community and its citizens, such as charitable outreach, art and science exhibits, and community revitalization and beautification projects.

Benefits of Partnerships for Communities

  • Greater awareness about the school environment, and the opportunity to provide input into policies and strategies.
  • A shared responsibility for supporting and guiding the social and educational needs of the future workforce.
  • Better understanding of the educational, social, economic and cultural demands on the school.
  • A better view and understanding of the district's use of their tax dollars and state funding.
  • Community members are able to see youth in a more positive light, and students view involved adults as positive role models.
  • Respect for community members by students and their families.
  • Increased patronage of local business owners that support the schools.
  • A feeling of satisfaction they are making a positive and worthwhile difference in the lives of students.

Benefits of Community Partnerships for Schools

  • A better awareness of resources available in the community, and more services and supports for students and their families.
  • An increased understanding of the local culture and beliefs.
  • School/district news and event flyers more widely promoted in the community.
  • Shared information and resources for students and families.
  • Increased cultural, recreational, and extracurricular activities for students.
  • Greater awareness and support for activities and learning within the school by the community.
  • Community partners can help provide day care, before and after-school programs, tutoring, and parent education programs.
  • Maximized physical and financial resources for the district.

What Can Schools Do to Promote Community Involvement

Research identified four factors that support a school's ability to develop and maintain meaningful community partnerships (SFCP Handbook, page 34):

  1. High commitment to learning;
  2. Principal support for community involvement;
  3. A welcoming school climate; and
  4. Two-way communication with potential community partners about their level and kind of involvement.

(may want to link these points to 8 Essentials)