How Do You Bring Community Partnerships to Scale?

Guest post by Jama Toung, Chief Development Officer, TASC

Last night the Children’s Aid Society and the Campaign for Educational Equity sponsored a policy event in my neighborhood of Washington Heights. Michael Rebell, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Pedro Noguera all shared interesting thoughts on ways to bring communities into their schools as true partners. New York City Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky’s remarks on the interplay between strong school leadership and effective school-and-community partnerships were still on my mind when I woke up today.

The Deputy Chancellor is all for more partnerships between schools and community organizations that can help students access opportunities like paid internships, where they learn to communicate, to be resilient, and to organize their time and activities. He also noted that the “stronger schools” make room for youth development, and good use of the resources community partners bring.

It seemed to me that he questioned whether you can bring these partnerships to scale by creating a model and then managing and engineering it to fit multiple schools. He made the case for cultivating a generation of school leaders who believe in partnerships, who gain experience in achieving student success through partnerships, and who then parachute into new schools to help them partner with community organizations.

I would be interested to know what others think of this approach to scaling. Myself, I think there’s a lot to be gained by helping schools and community organizations build their capacity to become effective school teams.

What also sticks with me from last night is my gratitude for being part of a community of parents. I took great solace in talking with the parents who put on the dinner, and stayed around afterward to reflect on what they heard. I feel a kinship with my neighbors, who also seek the best possible public education available for their children.