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Community-Based Organizations

“In our schools, it is the creativity and the dedication of our educators that will move us forward through this time. It is the extra sacrifice of parents. It is the determination of neighbors who care about their schools, whether or not their own children attend them. It is the willingness of Californians to embrace all students as their students, to be responsible for the future they face, and the future they will make for us all.”

—Jack O'Connell, California Superintendent of Public Instruction

Rationale

Schools, particularly those in high-poverty districts, benefit from strong relationships with community-based organizations that provide parent outreach and assistance to families. Partnerships with such organizations strengthen the ability of the school to serve the academic and developmental needs of its students and to forge bonds with students' families or caregivers. Effective partnerships help keep the school in touch with the wider community and professional networks and enable the school to capitalize on opportunities and resources that support student success.

Family-oriented social services—ranging from help with housing and food to referrals for drug and alcohol treatment—provide a valuable complement to a school's academic program. Such services almost always help improve school attendance, which is critical to school achievement and an important element in closing the achievement gap. For example, teachers and guidance counselors may request a referral to an appropriate community organization for a child needing extra attention. School mental health and guidance programs steer children with special needs into critical services. For other families, simply providing child care and after-school programs can relieve extreme stress. By establishing more trusting relationships with families, schools and community organizations can also help reinforce the importance of education.

Many conditions that jeopardize learning can be found across the socioeconomic spectrum. Others are caused or aggravated by poverty and may become more common, given the current recession and rising unemployment and poverty rates. Schools and community-based organization partnerships can help ease some of these barriers to learning and make important steps to closing the achievement gap.

Resources & Tools

Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA. 2007. A Resource Aid Packet on Addressing Barriers to Learning: A Set of Surveys to Map What a School Has and What It Needs. Los Angeles, CA. (PDF)
Community Outreach for Involvement and Support, pp. 34–38

Taking Center Stage, Act II: A Portal for Middle Grades Educators
Links to nonprofit organizations that often work in schools are listed on the Department of Education (CDE) Web site, Taking Center Stage, Act II.

To Get Involved

To get involved, contact your local Boys or Girls Club, NAACP, Urban League, YMCA, or other organizations.