Sunday, February 22, 2009

On The Drawing Board: Expanded Educational Collaboration


The Charles Stuart Mott Foundation's New Day for Learning initiative is encouraging the Charleston County School District to think big. A team at the school district offices has been considering how to deepen their strategic engagement with local nonprofit organizations. The potential for annual funding in excess of $500,000 by the Mott Foundation (matched by local dollars to become a total of $1,000,000) is catalyzing conversations about how to surround students with services provided by nonprofit partners. An afternoon's worth of brainstorming yielded the sloppy white board diagram shown above. In short, three neighborhoods create "one-stop shopping" facilities for students in need of assistance.


Help would be provided in a variety of areas including leadership training, healthcare, literacy, and new ways of involving parents in their children's education, among others. These centers draw the surrounding community into the schools and build upon the proven successes of the local nonprofits.
The idea is not new. Trident United Way's "Links to Success" was a starting point. Trident United Way funds several different projects in several different schools in the Nurturing Youth portion of their grant-making portfolio. Approximately $300,000 of Trident United Way funds goes to Communities in Schools, an organizer of multiple nonprofit service providers who together provide services in schools here and there. The big idea on the drawing boards of Charleston County School District is to link together services for entire feeder pipelines (linkages of elementary, middle, and high schools) in contiguous communities so that students get uninterrupted services all the way through school.
It is a tribute to local nonprofits that the school district is exploring this option for achieving academic excellence. It tells you something about the value educational professionals place on the expertise found inside our local nonprofit organizations.


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