Why Not? How to Build Innovative Community Partnerships

By Dr. Jacqueline L. Sanderlin

In my work building partnerships for the Inglewood Unified School District in Inglewood, CA, I have worked with members of our community to create beautiful projects and inspiring experiences for the children in our schools.

It is absolutely true that this work takes a lot of hustle and creative thinking. But there is one thing I always remind people: partnerships are relationships. Every conversation I have begins with this idea in mind. I never ask, “What can you do for us?” I ask, “What can we do together?” From there, we’re able to dream big together.

Below are a few ideas to get you started in building and cultivating community relationships for your schools. 

Branding your school identity

School choice is real and the competition is stiff! How is your school standing out as a viable choice? There is a way to make your school speak when you give it voice, personality, and life. There are specific strategies that can help you learn how to make your school a landmark in your community and one that the community knows about. When they know your school, the voices multiply!

Supporting academic pathways with partners

Having a pathway is an excellent way to inspire community partners to bring access and opportunity for students. Partners need a pathway to connect to and reside in. Their ability to make your pathway come alive with job shadowing, internships, scholarships, and certifications is a possibility that will create a pipeline into the world of college and career. With a solid plan, you can bring partners into your vision for years.

Making it rain green

This is the best color rain you can have and you don’t need an umbrella! How do you make it rain green? Become a cause and draw partners who will see your school as a financial investment—not charity. Community partners are always looking for a cause because they not only want to—they have to. Come and hear why and how you can leverage this opportunity the next day.

Learn more about and register for the Principals of Literacy Institute here.

Dr. Jacqueline L. Sanderlin (“Dr. J”) is Executive Director of School and Community Relations, Inglewood Unified School District. She will be speaking at the Principals of Literacy Institute (Nashville, TN / September 20 – 22, 2018) brought to you by Scholastic and NAESP.

Originally published in EDU, Scholastic's blog for educators, school leaders and anyone passionate about teaching and learning.