Effective Partnerships
Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (FBNP)

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Partnering with faith and community organizations is a proven means for schools to boost attendance, improve behavior, and achieve measurable gains in learning. Not surprisingly for many schools, the task of seeking out and sustaining these partnerships frequently gets pushed to the bottom of an endless to-do list. A proven way to reap the benefits of community partnerships is for a school to designate a skilled, experienced person for precisely this job. A school-community partnership coordinator should work as an integral part of a school leadership team and can help with:

  • Raising money and in-kind resources to support endeavors that meet student needs.
  • Identifying and establishing relationships with community partners, including faith-based organizations and businesses.
  • Creating or enhancing a volunteer recruitment and management system.
  • Integrating students' families into a school's goals and activities.

A partnerships coordinator can work directly for the school or for a community-based nonprofit partner. When an external organization manages this post, it can help ensure the coordinator isn't redirected to other pressing school needs. School partners can also help raise funds to support and sustain this position.

The AmeriCorps VISTA program is a great resource for schools and community-based organizations (CBOs) ready to build stronger partnerships. To learn more about how VISTA can support these efforts, contact the staff person in your state.

Community-based organizations and schools seeking to strengthen collaboration should consider the following elements of high-quality CBO-school partnerships:

  • Managing collaboratively. Jointly establishing program direction and priorities, planning, budgeting, training and aligning program staff, communicating across the partnership, and continuously improving program services.
  • Aligning in-school and out-of-school. Coordinating to ensure that out-of-school academic and enrichment efforts complement in-school instruction and programming.
  • Coordinating on safety, health, and student supports. Coordinating to promote school and community safety, reinforce health and wellness programming, and provide necessary student supports.
  • Sharing data and evaluation. Sharing information, data, performance measures, and evaluation strategies that guide project management, resource allocation, and service delivery while maintaining data privacy requirements.
  • Sharing resources. Jointly using resources such as staff, funding, administrative systems, school facilities, curricula, and instructional materials.
  • Clarifying and communicating roles and responsibilities. Clearly articulating roles and responsibilities for each partner organization to help optimize program services and limited resources.
  • Cooperating on family engagement. Coordinating interactions with families to strengthen positive family engagement that reinforces learning in multiple settings.
  • Coordinating among CBOs. Coordinating and establishing agreements between multiple community-based organizations when working with the same schools and students.

For more information, email the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at edpartners@ed.gov or call 202-401-1876.

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Last Modified: 08/03/2011