5 Community Partnerships in Action
This week, we’re continuing our deep dive into the power of community partnerships! We’ve discussed…
This week, we’re continuing our deep dive into the power of community partnerships! We’ve discussed some guiding principles for how to create and sustain partnerships with your community. Now, we’re taking a closer look at examples from XQ schools, to see what’s possible for students when these partnerships thrive. Still want more? Head over to our blog and social, where we’ll be covering community partnerships all month long. Let’s jump in!
At Iowa BIG, the projects students pursue in the community aren’t guaranteed to succeed. That’s a good thing.
Why It Matters: Iowa BIG students got off to an exciting start when they partnered with a community organization to refurbish a building to serve as temporary housing for homeless families. However, the project was cut short when students found asbestos in the house. The learning could have stopped there—but Iowa BIG educators helped students reframe their “failure” as a part of real-world work, and a chance to adapt and innovate. This approach empowers students to:
- Take on ambitious projects
- Adopt a growth mindset
- Build resilience to meet real-world challenges
Believe it or not, students racing go-karts during the school day at Purdue Polytechnic High School weren’t skipping class. They were learning crucial math and science skills—and venturing outside the classroom to do it.
Why It Matters: At PPHS, students work with community partners to pursue six-week “passion projects.” As the EV Cart project shows, these projects engage students in meaningful learning, building confidence alongside academic skills. You can design community based passion projects by asking:
- What topics capture your students’ interests?
- What core competencies connect with these passions?
- What community organizations could support and enrich the project with real-world opportunities?
Community partnerships are key to the innovative curriculum at Círculos, where place-based, project-based learning is the norm.
Why It Matters: Students at Círculos partner with organizations like the Santa Ana Business Council and the Santa Ana Public Works Department as part of Círculos’s unique Place-Based, Project-Based (PBL) curriculum. Explore how community partnerships play a vital role in Círculos’s PBL approach, which consists of a four year sequence:
- PBL 1: Students identify a community problem and research solutions
- PBL 2: Students craft a community-centered presentation around data they’ve researched and synthesized
- PBL 3: Students create TED-talk style presentations about their work with partner organizations
- PBL 4: Students consider their own identities in the context of the past, present, and future
Extra Credit: What Is Project-Based Learning?
Too often, students are left out of conversations about key community issues. Community partnerships can give students a platform to speak out.
Why It Matters: After losing a community member to gun violence, Iowa BIG student Callie knew she needed to take action. Along with a team of friends, Callie created a documentary about gun violence in Cedar Rapids, speaking with both students and community members about their experiences. Through this project, the team of students took a leading role in the conversation about gun violence, and contributed their ideas for solutions. To amplify student voice through community partnerships:
- Facilitate community art projects
- Let students take the lead in reaching out to community members
- Create meaningful opportunities for students to share their work with an audience
Access to career and internship opportunities for high school students often follows inequitable patterns. Community partnerships can change that.
Why It Matters: Brooklyn LAB High School and Elizabethton High School each leverage student internships to increase opportunity. At Brooklyn LAB, educators connect students of color with internships in fields where they have historically been underrepresented. And at Elizabethton, internships connect students with tech jobs that don’t exist in their immediate rural community. These connections:
- Supplement students’ resumes
- Expand students’ career goals
- Connect students to valuable mentors
- Can lead to compensation for students
Image source: National Institutes of Health
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