Community organizations can play a crucial role in bringing essential resources and expertise to schools, complementing and supplementing what the rest of the school day delivers. Community partnerships expand the types of learning experiences to which students are exposed, bringing arts instruction, civics and service, hands-on science, sports and physical fitness, and/or vocational education and career readiness activities into the school schedule. For schools looking to increase student achievement despite challenging circumstances, a high-quality, thoughtfully designed partnership may bring an infusion of new energy, new ideas, and new resources into their work of changing students’ lives.
Likewise, schools house the students that expanded learning opportunities work with for a long period of the day, determining what they learn and how they will be assessed on that learning. Oftentimes, schools also house afterschool or summer programs run by community-based organizations. Schools are crucial players in the development of the youth that community-based organizations work with, regardless of whether schools and community-based organizations actively work in partnership or not.
Furthermore, research has shown that alignment between a school and a community-based organization providing afterschool activities impacts the outcomes experienced by participants.
For all of the above reasons, thoughtful development of a strong partnership between a school and a community-based organization makes sense for all parties involved, especially the youth. These partnerships, however, can be difficult to develop. The following resources are dedicated to supporting high-quality school-community partnerships for expanding learning.
- School-Community Partnership Guidebook: This guidebook includes resources on developing a high-quality partnership that can be utilized at various stages of partnership.
- Learning Community on School-Community Partnerships: The Network for Youth Success coordinated a statewide learning community of education associations and practitioners that dedicated a year and a half to understanding the importance of strong school-community partnerships for expanding learning, determining the current landscape in New York State, and creating joint policy recommendations to improve state and local policies and practices around school-community partnerships.