Power Up Your Partnerships

The Campaign to Expand School-Community Partnerships in Boston


 
 
 Power Up Your Partnerships:

The Campaign to Expand School-Community Partnerships in Boston 
 

Empowering school and community leaders with the information they need to integrate programs for the children and families of Boston Public Schools 
 
 

Boston Leaders for the Future of Education

Innovation Incubator Proposal 
 
 

June 8, 2009 
 
 

Hilary Brayton

hilary.brayton@gmail.com

James Liou

james.liou@ed.gov

Lindsey Musen

lindsey.musen@gmail.com

Katie Sagarin

ksagarin@hotmail.com 
 
 
 
 

Acknowledgements: 

      Preparation for this incubator proposal was the result of early collaboration and communication with inspiring educators and community partners. It is our hope that in some way, this proposal offers the opportunity to extend and amplify their work. The incubator team would like to especially thank Abby Weiss of the Full-Service Schools Roundtable, Marta Gredler of Boston Public Schools’ Department of Extended Learning Time, Afterschool, and Services (DELTAS), and Patricia McGuiness of Boston After School and Beyond.   

Statement of Need

Introduction 

Boston Public Schools (BPS) relies on the Seven Essentials for Whole School Improvement, a list which guides all efforts to “improve instruction in every classroom and to support every student to reach proficiency.” One item on this list is, “Partner with families and community to support student learning and engagement.” Therefore, the district recognizes that schools alone cannot fulfill the immense developmental needs of children, and yet the whole child needs to develop in healthy ways in order to ensure academic and career success. Another essential for whole school improvement is, “Maintain high levels of effectiveness, efficiency, and equity in our operations.” In order to maximize effectiveness, efficiency, and equity, the BPS already relies on partnerships with community-based organizations (CBO’s) that can provide programs, services, and outreach across the city. There is no question that community-based organizations already play a vital role in the academic success of Boston’s children. The Superintendent’s Acceleration Agenda also strongly supports the importance of strategic community partnerships in its three core principles: to offer the best possible education to all of its students, to “reshap[e] our cultural frame of reference and shift how we leverage limited resources with other partners,” and that “investments inside and outside of the classroom matter” as enriching experiences for students’ “lifelong well-being and lifelong success.” 

There is, however, a wide discrepancy in the quantity and quality of services that schools provide across the city. There is a need, and opportunity, to more efficiently and directly meet the goals of the district’s whole school improvement process and the goals of the Acceleration Agenda.  
 

Needs and Opportunities 

The following are the central needs identified by this incubator group.

  1. Schools’ needs to locate and connect with community partners and resources.

      School leaders, teachers, and support staff are charged with numerous responsibilities and often need help navigating available resources, researching new opportunities, and developing initiatives. School-based resources and services often depend on entrepreneurial spirit, talents, and time availability of school staff.1 Therefore, the balance of community resources accessed by the district schools varies widely. Resource-poor schools need easier access to partnerships that can provide programs and services to their students but school leaders often do not know what is available in their neighborhoods, how to strategically cultivate effective community partnerships, or conceive how they might benefit their students academically. The unique opportunity in Boston is to leverage the numerous resources and intermediary organizations already supporting school-community partnerships to more efficiently help schools and CBO’s overcome barriers to collaboration. 

  1. Organizations’ needs for seamless partnerships with schools.

      Community-based organizations, including OST providers, health providers, and universities, are eager to work with schools. Boston Public Schools can help these organizations achieve their missions and enhance the community impact of service providers. However, while some have great partnerships with some schools, many organizations have trouble accessing and working with others. Thus the execution of a strategic publicity and information campaign would not only spark potential new partnerships but also would develop communication pathways, which would lead to the sustainability of such partnerships. 

  1. The opportunity to share effective school-community partnership development tools.

      Given that school-CBO partnerships are so beneficial to supporting student achievement, and that resources are available in Boston to facilitate partnership development, the natural next step is publicity. The intermediary organizations have made huge strides in regards to resource mapping, knowledge sharing, networking and convening, professional development, data collection and analysis, and other forms of assistance. Unfortunately, these tools are only primarily used by the most active, engaged, and informed school and community leaders. A campaign to increase the utility and power of these tools will ensure that they meet their potential for city-wide improvement and that Boston’s children experience maximum benefits from these tools. 

Proposed Innovation 

The Innovation 

Several intermediary organizations have already developed resources available to help schools and providers connect, develop partnerships, implement programs, and evaluate student outcomes. Their work can directly contribute to the success of Boston Public Schools students, and so it is essential that school and community leaders are aware of these intermediary supporters, and are provided with the mechanism to connect and work with them.  

We propose a strategic communication campaign that: 

  1. EDUCATES.  Emphasizes the importance of school-CBO partnerships for student achievement and healthy development.
  2. GOES TO SCHOOLS.  Reaches out to school leaders and staff with the message that resources and intermediaries are available to facilitate sustained community partnerships.
  3. SUPPORTS.  Offers individualized support and guidance for interested school and community leaders.
  4. MAKES A POLITICAL CASE.  Further develops political will about the urgency and positive impact of community partnerships in educating students and closing the achievement gap.
 

This campaign would showcase school-community partnership resources and the resource providers that exist in Boston and help to connect schools to these resources as mediated through audio, video, and print media tools as well as engagement through campaign ambassadors.  The primary target audience for this campaign includes principals, teachers, school staff, and staff at community-based organizations. While marketing to parents, such as those in the Boston Parent Organizing Network, could inspire parents to encourage schools to develop community partnerships, this campaign more directly seeks to enable and empower school and community leaders to make these community connections. By creating a sustained marketing campaign that allows schools and CBO’s to establish strong partnerships, we can increase academic and social support for students. In essence, this campaign extends and amplifies the work of the intermediary partners such as Boston DELTAS and Boston After School and Beyond for the benefit of participating schools and their students. 
 

Current Resources and Intermediary Partners 

    1. Online toolkit to facilitate school-community partnerships

      • Boston Public Schools’ Department of Extended Learning Time, Afterschool, and Services (DELTAS)
 

2. Online directories of out-of-school time programs

      - BOSTONavigator: http://www.bostonavigator.org/

      • Boston After School and Beyond
          • City of Boston
 

3. Professional networks for providers 

   - TRIspace http://triumphcollaborative.ning.com/

      • Boston Public Schools’ Department of Extended Learning Time, Afterschool, and Services (DELTAS)

    - Partners’ Conferences –still in the pipeline- will be convening around drop out prevention

          • Boston Public Schools’ Office of High School Support
 

    4. Resource mapping projects currently underway

    - Children’s Hospital has developed a children’s mental health guide for parents and is currently mapping mental health resources for children in Boston

    - Boston Connects, an initiative of the Boston College School of Education is developing resource guides for its 12 schools 
     

First Steps and Resources Required 

First Steps and Campaign Overview 

  1. Solicit information and advice from intermediary organizations

      a.    Identify relevant existing resources and current marketing efforts

      b.  Determine the approach appropriate for each target audience (principals, teachers, school staff, and staff at community-based organizations) 

  1. Assemble Implementation Team
    1. Proposal team selects a project manager
    2. Student leaders from high schools and universities are chosen to participate as campaign ambassadors.
 
  1. Develop publicity plan and tools for delivery
    1. Identify venues for publicity (e.g. events, meetings, newsletters).
    2. Establish timeline for development and delivery priorities.
 
  1. Create and implement publicity tools
    1. Campaign throughout Boston to a variety of stakeholders using selected methods of communication.
 
  1. Establish working relationship with participating schools
    1. Identify and establish relationship with interested schools
    2. Conduct resource mapping with school leadership and create linkages to intermediary partners
    3. Determine school needs and priorities, and identify focus for community partnerships
    4. Create goals and working timeline for sustained partnership
 
  1. Evaluate process and impact
    1. Continuously document campaign content, strategies, and progress.
    2. Develop and distribute evaluation surveys.
    3. Use appropriate analytical tools to assess effectiveness of campaign achieving goals to 1) increase knowledge, 2) increase demand for intermediary organizations’ services, and 3) increase the numbers of school-community partnerships. 
 
 

Resources Required: 

Human resources:

The incubator team plans to bring together college upperclassmen or graduate interns from universities in Boston whose studies relate directly to this work. The interns would get either class credit or federal work-study funds, as well as valuable hands-on experience, in exchange for their work, and would be supervised by a Project Manager. The schools suggested below are merely examples. Students from any college in Boston with matching academic interests might be on one of the three teams. Additionally, Boston high school youth will be invited at every stage of the process, particularly through partnerships with the participating schools as well as youth arts, entrepreneurship, and leadership organizations.2

  • Project Manager. The project manager might be an incubator team member, an employee of one of the intermediary organizations, a marketing professional, or a leadership team consisting of all three.
  • Planning: BU Communications student interns to develop publicity plan.
  • Creating: Emerson, MassArt or Boston Arts Academy student interns to develop video, audio, and print media publications.
  • Delivering: Education, social work, or marketing graduate interns from any school to implement campaign and act as ambassadors.
 

Physical resources:

  • Media equipment. We suggest in-kind equipment use from colleges and organizations involved in project.
  • Printing. We suggest in-kind printing services from BPS or other partner.
  • Meeting space. We suggest in-kind space from a community organization or city agency.
 

Partnerships/Support:

  • Boston Public Schools, especially DELTAS, Family and Student Engagement, and Communications offices
  • Boston After School and Beyond
  • Boston Connects, an initiative of the Boston College School of Education
  • Full-Service Schools Roundtable
  • City of Boston
  • Mayor’s Community Learning Initiative
  • Boston Centers for Youth and Families
  • Boston Public Health Commission
  • BOSTnet
  • Step UP, a program that pairs Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, Tufts University, and Northeastern University with Boston Public Schools
  • Higher Education Academic Departments
  • Massachusetts Charter School Association
 

Fiscal Resources:

  • We propose that bringing community resources and services directly at the school site level would be more cost-efficient than any isolated attempt to amplify services and support for students. “Well designed school-connected services get ‘more bang for the buck.’ From a financing and systems perspective, school-connected services can reach large numbers of children, make a range of services more easily accessible to families, achieve economies of scale, leverage school and community resources, and sustain promising approaches by integrating them into existing systems.”3
  • We will contribute the $500 cash prize to the implementation of this project.
 
 

Principal Venues for Campaign Delivery 

Video: YouTube and email marketing campaign

      Meetings, events, and conferences for principals, teachers, and school staff

      Training sessions at principal and teacher preparation programs

      CBO collaborative meetings / events

      Local public television 

Audio: WBUR and college radio stations 

Print: Conferences and events

      Resource centers

      Newsletters and newspapers

      Targeted mail

      Hand-delivery by campaign ambassadors 

    Dialogue: Campaign ambassadors, ranging from selected high school students or college students, could speak at meetings and events and provide outreach and support to individual school and community leaders. An individualized, customer-service like approach will help overburdened school and community leaders to navigate and make use of partnership development resources. Ambassadors may also organize neighborhood gatherings, give presentations, and respond to email requests for information. 
     

Project Evaluation and Impact 

The campaign proposed herein aims to raise awareness about and utility of the resources available for school-CBO partnership development. The following goals would be measured by surveys to measure the overall impact of the incubator project idea. While we have high hopes for long-term goals, our immediate objectives and year-end goals include: 

Knowledge of resources goal(s)

  • School and community leaders will have greater awareness about the partnership development tools available to them. For each resource listed on the survey, more respondents will answer YES to questions regarding knowledge of resources. Sample quantitative measurement: 80% of survey respondents will indicate new knowledge of available community resources and intermediaries;
 

Utility of resources goal(s) –

  • School and community leaders will make greater use of partnership development tools. Sample qualitative measurement: intermediary organizations will report increased demand for services, as indicated by staff surveys, website usage tracking, and other available analytics.
 

Action goal(s) –

  • School and community leaders will create new partnerships or make existing partnerships more effective as a result of the campaign. Sample target goals: 50% of Boston Public Schools that respond to the initial outreach campaign will cultivate at least one new partnership for the 2010-2011 school year, and 30% will improve at least one partnership as a result of the campaign.
 

      The campaign team will administer brief surveys to a random sample of school and community leaders before and after the campaign which identifies knowledge of and use of partnership development resources. Additionally, intermediary organizations will be asked to measure the demand for their services before and after the campaign. This measurement might include indicators from website traffic, phone calls, meetings, site visits, and other indicators of resource use. We will be able to use these evaluation tools to measure change in knowledge of resources, utility of resources, and actions taken as a result of the campaign, which can be measured against target goals.

      This campaign has the potential to change the way we think about meeting the needs of the city’s public school students. The tools for increased academic achievement and social support are available, and this campaign will be an additional catalyst to ensure that every school and every child is reached by the city’s community-based organizations. The Power Up Your Partnerships campaign to expand programs and services offered through Boston Public Schools has the potential to increase access to programs and services, streamline delivery, facilitate dialogue between educators and CBO staff who work with the same children, support the isolated schools and children who need support the most, increase student learning, and raise overall academic achievement of Boston school children in every neighborhood. 
 
 
 
 

Appendix A: Letters of Support 


June 8, 2009 

To Whom It May Concern: 

I write in support of the Campaign for School-Community Partnership Development. In my role as Executive Director of the Full-Service Schools Roundtable at Boston Public Schools, I both appreciate the critical importance of school-community partnerships and recognize the many challenges school and community leaders face in cultivating effective partnerships and navigating available resources. A publicity campaign to advertise the host of partnership development resources available in Boston is a promising idea for helping school and community leaders connect more children to the services they need. 
 

Sincerely, 

Abby R. Weiss

Executive Director 
  
 
 

Full-Service Schools Roundtable

443 Warren Street Dorchester, MA 02121

617-635-6537  |   aweiss@boston.k12.ma.us

www.fssroundtable.org 
 
 

June 8, 2009 

To: James Liou, Hilary Brayton, Lindsey Musen, and Katie Sagarin,

      Full-service community school team, Boston Leaders for the Future of Education 

From: Marta Gredler, Program Director, BPS DELTAS 

Re.  Innovation Incubator Proposal. Power Up Your Partnerships 
 

As founding director of the Full-service Schools Roundtable and current Program Director for Boston Public School’s Department of Extended Learning Time, Afterschool & Services (DELTAS), I welcome the focus on expanding full-service community schools in Boston.  As you recognize in your proposal, the evidence is compelling that a more comprehensive and integrated strategy to support student success and healthy development is needed to meet the goal of all Boston’s young people reaching proficiency, graduating from high school, and going on to higher education and fulfilling and sustainable employment.  

I applaud the incubator group for demonstrating such a clear understanding of the potential impact of full-service schooling as well as the need to address the disparity that currently exists among schools’ knowledge and capacity to access resources that could be of assistance. The idea of harnessing college students as ambassadors is powerful. DELTAS would welcome such an outreach effort aimed at helping partners, principals, school staff, and families know where to go to find the assistance needed i.e. intermediaries to help broker partnerships between partners and schools and websites such as the Navigator, or the Online Advocate to help families.  

Thank you for taking the leadership to name this issue and developing such a creative strategy to grow more awareness and support for full-service community schooling in Boston.  DELTAS stands ready to collaborate with you and wish you success in launching this campaign. 
 
 
  

 

DELTAS |  443 Warren Street  |  Dorchester, MA 02121  |  Phone: (617) 635-1578  |  Fax: (617) 635-6610  

    
 
 
 June 8, 2009  

Dear School-Community Partnerships Team:

I write in support of your proposal to highlight the role that community organizations play in improving learning opportunities for children in the Boston Public Schools.  I would be happy to work with your group on implementation of this proposal.

Boston After School and Beyond seeks to cultivate and coordinate community resources in every neighborhood of the city, both in school and in the community.  Our efforts with hundreds of program providers through the Teen Initiative, the Boston Youth Environmental Network, and the Boston Youth Sports Initiative – as well as more than 600 organizations in BOSTONavigator – offer a ready opportunity to highlight the important role that community organizations play in this city.  In addition, our collaboration with BPS DELTAS on school-based after-school programs demonstrates the leading role that several community-based partners play in aligning programming with school priorities.

 

I wish you the best of luck the competition.

 

                      Sincerely,

 

                      Chris Smith

                      Executive Director

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Boston After School and Beyond

89 South Street, Suite 601 Boston, MA 02111

T 617.345.5322  |  F 617.812.4693

www.bostonbeyond.org