Community Partnerships Matter — This Toolkit Can Help
Community partnerships are one of the best ways to create next generation learning environments that expand learning time, engage students, and energize the school community.
They bring real-world learning to students — by learning code from parent volunteers who work in high tech; by building rockets with an engineering and architectural firm; or by taking a baking class with a local pastry chef to learn about food science, local agriculture, and health.
This toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to creating community partnerships that support next generation learning environments. It was created by The Colorado Education Initiative, Generation Schools Network, and 2Revolutions.
Next generation learning creates the opportunity for students to connect with the larger world, learn about careers, work on solving social problems, and develop skills they will need to be happy, healthy, and productive 21st century adults.
Reimagine Talent to Expand Student Learning
Welcoming community partners or family and community volunteers expands opportunities for students. This toolkit walks through these seven steps to consider before partnering with community organizations and volunteers:
- Refine your school’s expanded learning time vision.
- Hire a community partner coordinator.
- Find community partners and volunteers — recruiting the right people.
- Secure the relationships.
- Recruit volunteers.
- Onboard your community partners and volunteers.
- Continually communicate with all stakeholders.
How Are You Doing?
The starting point for measuring the impact of community partnerships is first talking with students, families, and community partners to find out what they hope to achieve from the program. This toolkit helps schools:
- Create goals and targets for all participants.
- Survey students and families throughout the process to see what is working well, what needs to be improved, and what the overall impact was.
- Survey community partners, volunteers, and staff to determine whether they received the support needed to be effective.
Innovative Approaches to Funding Sustainable Programs
One of the biggest hurdles many schools face in building community partnerships is developing a sustainable funding stream. This toolkit connects schools with potential resources available, including grant opportunities, corporate sponsorships, student fundraisers, and crowd sourcing on social media. By nurturing relationships with partners, administrators, teachers, students, families, and schools can find diverse funding opportunities.
Sustaining Effective Partnerships
To keep an effective community partnership going, there are best practices that will help schools make sure successful programs continue to thrive. From creating a Facebook page to recognizing partners at school assemblies, this toolkit offers a variety of ideas to sustain partnerships from year to year.