Schools and school districts are being asked to provide more and more services to students while being given few additional resources. This brief discusses how school districts can use partnerships with outside organizations and agencies to help provide those additional services. Partner organizations can help schools and districts build and strengthen healthy learning environments by bringing in additional programs and services and providing additional opportunities for schools to connect with families and other local community members.

This brief first describes what school-community partnerships are and the evidence on whether partnerships can promote students’ social and emotional well-being and their academic success. It further reflects on how districts and schools can expand these partnerships to assist school transformation at three levels—the program level, the staff level, and the structural and policy level—while weaving in practical advice from district leaders with successful district-wide partnership systems.

What Are School-Community Partnerships?

  • They are respectful and collaborative partnerships between schools and outside organizations.
  • Partners can provide academic enrichment activities, tutoring and behavior support, health and social services, and family and community engagement.

School-Community Partnerships Have Proven to Be Effective

  • Studies show these partnerships can lead to:
    • Stronger social and emotional skills development
    • Enhanced student engagement (higher attendance rates and lower chronic absenteeism)
    • Improved academic outcomes (higher test scores and better grades, higher rates of on-time grade promotion, and higher graduation rates)

Read the full article about school-community partnerships by Susan Sepanik and Kevin Thaddeus Brown, Jr. at MDRC.