Pillars of Partnerships
Planning/Identification of Needs & Resources
Developing a relationship between a school and community partner requires some planning in the early stages. Each organization should identify their needs and the available resources that can be dedicated to the partnership.
The planning process for new partnerships can take place at the point in the year when the school and new partner are introduced. Established partnerships should meet at the end of the school year or over the summer months to plan back-to-school activities. Many partners schedule regular meetings throughout the school year to plan activities and assess the environment for emerging needs.
Management Structure and Goals/Objectives
The school and partner should establish who the key players are in forming a Partners in Education team. Both organizations should have representatives who can make the important connections with colleagues. The Partners in Education team should identify the point person for each organization through which requests will flow. It is important to establish the process for requesting funding and other resources and to begin the establishment of a budget for the partnership.
Defining goals for the partnership will grow out of the identification of needs. These goals should be broad statements upon which the Partners in Education team builds specific objectives. Each partner should understand the needs of both organizations and develop partnership goals and objectives that are mutually beneficial.
Objectives need to specify what the partnership hopes to accomplish. These objectives should be measurable and specific about who will do what and when.
Recruiting and assigning resources to meet the stated Partners in Education objectives is a critical component to program success. These resources can be human capital, equipment, supplies, funding or facilities and can be either internal or external to the two partner organizations. Once committed to the partnership activities, it is important to utilize these resources effectively.
The orientation and training of partnership participants is a valuable commitment of time in the early stages of the relationship. Key school staff members should familiarize themselves with their school partner. Just as important is the effort of representatives from school partners who become familiar with the school environment. Partners in Education activities with direct student contact may also require additional training specific to the activity.
Promoting partnership success stories leads to a greater awareness of the value of the Partners in Education program. Nothing promotes the partnership program better than a school staff member or school partner representative who shares his or her positive experiences from a Partners in Education activity. Schools and their partners need to constantly look for ways to promote their partnership activities within their organizations as well as to the community.
Recognition and Evaluation
The sustainability of partnerships results from strong efforts to build relationships with the people invested in the partnership. One of the best ways to keep a partnership going is to regularly recognize the contributions of those participating in partnership activities. Make presentations to both organizations concerning the success of the partnership, and appropriately thank the people who made a difference.
The school and its partners should evaluate the effectiveness of their Partners in Education programs annually. The Partners in Education team is encouraged to make notes throughout the school year about completed activities. Are the objectives being met? Are the resources being used efficiently? In the event that the partnership is not working as well as it could, go back in the planning process, and evaluate where changes can impact success in future years. Ineffective programs don’t have to lead to dissolved partnerships. The commitment of program participants to look for better approaches can recreate any activities that fell short of expectations.
Communication, Communication, Communication
Partnerships between schools and community organizations are only as healthy as the amount of communication that takes place between the partners. Just like other relationships, these partnerships depend upon open and honest dialogue between the vested parties.
Schools and their community partners are encouraged to invest time learning about their new partner in the early stages of the relationship. Scheduling regular meetings in the beginning of the partnership builds familiarity with the people and organizations involved. It is also helpful to meet at the community partner’s site to further communicate the value of the partnership to a broader audience within the community partner’s organization.
Share good news about the accomplishments of the partnership on a regular basis. The school and community organization both benefit as ownership of the partnership grows throughout both groups.
|Last Updated: 1/8/09|