Rochester Public Schools and United Way are partnering to develop three community schools, Gage Elementary School, Riverside Central Elementary School and the Rochester Alternative Learning Center to intentionally work together to improve student learning, build stronger families, and create a healthier community.
Students and Families
• Students attending Community Schools
• Families of Community Schools students
• Parent-Teacher Organizations
• Neighborhoods around schools
Rochester Public Schools
• School board members
• District administration
• Teachers and staff
• Tax payers
• Current and prospective donors
• Staff and board of directors
• Private Funders
Current and Prospective partners
• Nonprofit/social service organizations
• Local and state government leaders
• Business leaders
United Way’s Role
United Way serves as the lead partner for the Rochester Community Schools Partnership. United Way’s role is to work with partners to mobilize the assets of the school and the entire community to improve educational, health, social, family and economic results. United Way’s primary contribution is in coordinating and managing partnerships with community organizations. Ensuring successful collaborations through strategic alignment, accountability, and continuous improvement, the lead partner helps to keep all partners working together toward our common goal.
The community schools effort, when fully implemented and functional, is an example of collective impact; bringing people together in a structured way to achieve social change. It is more than just a co-location of programs.
Collective impact starts with a common agenda, collectively defining the problem and creating a shared vision to solve it. Partners agree to track progress in the same way, allowing for continuous improvement. Collective impact fosters mutually reinforcing activities; meaning collective efforts are coordinated to maximize the end result. It encourages continuous communication to build trust and relationships among partners. Essential to a collective impact approach is backbone support dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group. United Way of Olmsted County and Rochester Public Schools share these responsibilities in the Rochester Community Schools Partnership.
(Adapted from Collective Impact Forum)
Each community school is unique in the services it provides. All schools have completed a needs assessment to determine how the school can best impact students and families. Needs assessments included surveys, focus groups, and interviews with staff, students, family members, neighbors of the school, and current community partner organizations. After identifying needs, new partnerships are being established to meet shared goals for students and families.
The Community School Site Facilitator is key to the success of the community school and can be considered a “connector”. This person is responsible for managing the school’s partnerships, ensuring that partnerships meet the needs of the students, and connecting specialized supports with the school’s academic growth goals. This individual assists by using student/ school data, needs assessments and academic assessments to align those efforts within the school. The Site Facilitator sustains the collective by aligning shared goals, measurement, and feedback loops throughout the collective partnerships to ensure strong outcomes.
Why were Gage Elementary, Riverside Central Elementary School and Rochester Alternative Learning Center selected as the first community schools?
The superintendent of Rochester Public Schools named Gage and Riverside as pilot sites in December 2014. The ALC was added in November of 2016. All three sites have needs to be met. Their free and reduced lunch percentages are higher than the district average and their students are facing barriers to academic success.
Success and Results
Following the completion of the needs assessments, partnerships are being established to create both short-term and long-term improvements in the lives of students and families. Examples of these results in other community schools have included:
• Children are ready to enter school on time
• Students attend school consistently
• Students are actively involved in learning and their community
• Students are engaged with families and community
• Families are actively involved in their children’s education
• Students are succeeding academically
• Students are healthy: physically, socially, and emotionally
• Students live and learn in stable and supportive environments
• Communities are desirable places to live