by Anne Arias
One of the many gaps the pandemic has illuminated is just how disconnected many schools are from their nearby community partners who could support a more comprehensive ecosystem of supports for youth and families. The recognition that community partners have been essential supports through the pandemic and beyond is why supporting the holistic needs of students through school and community partnerships is one of the 2021 Policy Priorities of the Washington State Youth Development Strategy Table.
As we work towards building educational systems that support the whole child and ensure our Black, Indigenous, and youth of color thrive, community partners play a critical role. Check out YDEKC’s Whole Child, Whole Day Mini-Grant Report for examples of partners in the Road Map Region who are leading with racial equity and supporting the whole child in partnership with families, youth, and community. With schools seeking new kinds of community partnerships, existing partners adapting their services to meet current needs and pandemic-driven restrictions, and the opportunity for all of us to rethink our shared goals and approach to partnership, my colleague Kelly Riffer from School’s Out Washington and I put our heads together last fall to figure out what resources we could offer to the field.
One of our long-standing resources is YDEKC’s School-Community Partnership Toolkit. Although we have hosted workshops and year-long cohort programs focused on building and strengthening partnerships, many folks come to these resources for the first time via our website, and there are a lot of tools to sort through! Kelly and I asked ourselves, “How could we bring these tools to life?”
Introducing… the virtual School-Community Partnership Quick Connections series, which builds on the resource library of short learning videos School’s Out Washington developed to support folks in youth development and childcare during the pandemic.
Our goals for this collaborative series are to:
- share concrete tools and resources to meet the needs of programs and schools who are building or strengthening partnerships,
- humanize our School-Community Partnership Toolkit resources, and
- build a library of easily accessible mini trainings on partnership.
In each session of Partnership Quick Connections, we discuss at least one strategy or tool to help you build strong and equitable school-community partnerships, and we link to digital resources in our toolkit. Our favorite sessions are when we bring on local guests who are managing school-community partnerships! For example, in Part II, Tanya Fernandez from Seattle Against Slavery and Nate Robinson from City of Tukwila shared how to map out the people and potential partnerships in your ecosystem and center relationships in your approach. Hearing directly from folks who are applying these strategies and tools in the field right now is inspiring and motivating!
Since we started in October 2020, our Quick Connections series includes:
- Part I: Introduction to the Toolkit
- Part II: Mapping Your Partnership Ecosystem
- Part III: Adapting Partnerships During Times of Crisis
- Part IV: Meet Your Hosts!
Watch the videos above, and register for the upcoming events in our schedule:
- March 17, 3:00 p.m. — Part V: Aligning Activities to Outcomes
- April – June: Every 3rd Wednesday of the month: (Hold the time on your calendar!)
- 3:00 p.m. — Quick Connections series
- 3:30 p.m. — Partnership Office Hours
After every Quick Connections event, we are hosting an optional Partnership Office Hours. We’re creating a casual learning space where folks can ask questions, seek resources to address challenges, and share successes related to partnership.
We welcome your suggestions for topics to cover or guests to bring on our series. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
So many things are challenging during the pandemic, including partnership, and yet we have an opportunity to come out of this experience with new ways of working together to support young people to thrive.
Come and learn with us!