The Importance of Community Partnerships and How They Support our Youth

Posted by Elizabeth Odle on

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.  During this month, we've featured local stories of youth experiencing homelessness, offering information to deepen understanding about youth homelessness and identifying ways we can all support these students.This week, we continue to focus on community supports that are available to support success, not only for homeless youth, but, for all students.

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If believing that education is the main link in assuring students a brighter future in their preparation to become successful and productive American Graduates, then community partnerships are the necessary ingredient. Community partners act in concert to bring together a wide range of assets and perspectives to support our students. Community partnerships are necessary to assure success in school as a collective, forthright responsibility of students, parents, teachers, support staff, and the community as a whole. 

Decades of research tells us that many resources are needed to support our American Graduates. Community partnerships provide those needed resources that focus on the shared vision of the family, the school, and the community-at-large.  They provide a continuum of supports to help our children and their families as they make meaningful connections between home, school, and their community.

Community partnerships are the exterior and interior enhancers that work with existing leaders of our schools to accomplish their missions and goals. They collaboratively align with a multitude of partners to provide essential resources and to address the basic needs of students and their families. 

After experiencing more than three decades of being a public school advocate, educator and administrator, I sincerely believe that community partners are to our schools what vitamins and minerals are to our bodies.  They are essential nutrients.

Community partnerships support a vital aspect of effective school improvement. Successful community partnerships make it possible for schools to focus on what they do best — providing academic instruction in a safe and nurturing environment. Seasoned educators share the philosophy that schools alone cannot provide the needed resources to fully educate our children. Much of what happens in the classroom is determined by what happens outside of the classroom. Not all of a school's needs are academic. The basic needs of students and their families must also be met for students to be able to be successful in and outside of the classroom.

It is my professional opinion that our schools should be the center of a flourishing community where everyone works together and where everyone collectively thrives. We also know that there is no “silver bullet” to the success of our American Graduates. A wide range of resources are needed to effectively support educating ALL of our children.  This is the mission of public education in the United States.

Community partnerships add volunteer supports; provide extra-curricular programs; engage parents in the education of their children; and secure needed “wrap- around” services for students and families who are challenged by real economic and educational barriers. Community partnerships mobilize schools and community toward shared goals that guides their day-to-day relationships and encourages accountability and success for our American Graduates.

Many educators and community service leaders have commented that our children will produce the outcomes that reflect their level of parental and community investment.  It is clear that there is a pivotal connection between community collaboration and successfully educating the “whole child.” Every child must be given the opportunity and encouragement to develop not just in basic academic skills, but also in basic social and emotional areas. When we improve student success in school, we improve long-term community outcomes as well. This is a key economic development factor.

It has been the common agreement by many educators and community service providers that every child deserves every chance possible to succeed, regardless of background, family income, or ZIP code.  

Thus, I sincerely believe that every school, every family, every community and every American graduate needs a strong set of supportive community partners.   Aligning community partnerships are just the “right thing to do” for our schools, our children, and their families. It is important for community partners to work diligently, deliberately, and cooperatively to prepare our students to become life-long learners and productive members of society. They are the needed vitamins and enhancement for successful schools, successful graduates, and successful communities.

What are your thoughts on how community partnerships can support student success? What local schools and organizations are doing this well? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and on social media using #AmGradIndy

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Elizabeh Odle.JPG Serving more than three decades as a public school advocate, educator and former Indianapolis Public School administrator, Elizabeth Odle values the pivotal connections between community collaboration and successfully educating the “whole child”. She embraced her community-engaging spirit while serving as the Director of Bridges To Success with the United Way of Central Indiana and the Indianapolis Public Schools.

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