Strong relationships between schools and local community businesses and nonprofits can prove to be mutually beneficial
Who makes up a village? In the context of schools, the obvious players are students, parents, teachers, principals, and other school staff. Expanding the view outside the school building provides a reminder of the many others who children within a village will interact with each day; in an urban setting this may be at the corner store, coffee shop, library, or rec center. Recurring familiar faces might include the owner of a pizza place, the staff at a Boys and Girls Club, or a faith-based leader in a place of worship. Kids in any community likely have their own list of some favorite haunts: a game arcade, karate studio, trampoline parks or frequently visited day camp locations.
Businesses and nonprofits play a significant role in the village that makes up a school community. Schools, businesses, and community-based organizations can benefit greatly by strengthening and formalizing partnerships with one another. It’s common to see sponsor banners hung on school fences; those businesses benefit from the advertising that comes with supporting local students, and the schools typically receive sponsorship dollars as a donation. In a state like Colorado with extremely low per-pupil education funding, business sponsorships can make a huge difference in the resources that schools can afford.
Whereas schools can benefit immensely from financial or hands-on support from local businesses, there is also great opportunity for exposure within the community for those supporting the school. A local library seeking to do outreach for a summer reading program, for example, can reach the audience of an entire school building by partnering with school leaders. The reading program can be advertised through school communication channels, and students will benefit from the services provided by a local community partner. A local restaurant looking to boost its customer base can offer specials to a nearby school or host a fundraising night on their behalf.
Schools who establish effective business partnerships often have strong PTAs or PTOs, but these partnerships are attainable for any school. Whether it be a single parent volunteer, a family liaison, or a motivated teacher, one person spending a few hours visiting or calling businesses or organizations in the neighborhood will almost always have positive results. Businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations want to connect with schools, and may simply not know where to start.
The creative opportunities for school-business partnerships are endless: rec center programming opportunities, certificates for teacher appreciation week, event sponsorships, school supply drives, or “done-in-a-day” volunteer events can all emerge from establishing relationships within your own village. Look around your community and reach out to those who you believe will help strengthen the village relationships that will benefit students and families.