Strengthening the connection between our schools and Manchester’s youth-serving agencies
There are many nonprofits in Manchester supporting kids, but no easy way for parents, students, and teachers to know them all or what each agency offers. Hoping to change that, Manchester Proud recently asked staff at those non-profits how we can help.
Twenty-six employees from 14 Manchester youth-serving organizations gathered at the Boys and Girls Club (BGCM) in Manchester on Sept. 18, 2019 for a Visioning Session with Manchester Proud. The group spent nearly an hour brainstorming ways their organizations and the schools in Manchester could more effectively collaborate and coordinate to ensure families and students are getting the help they need.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to gather a group of afterschool providers to kick off back to school,” said Diane Fitzpatrick, CEO of BGCM and a member of Manchester Proud’s Community Planning Group. “We believe every young person should have access to a high quality out of school experience. Developing a partnership between the Manchester School District and our city’s youth serving agencies is vital to our children in the Manchester community.”
Manchester Proud asked for session because improving school-community partnerships is one of the areas we will address in our plan for rethinking the ways our schools support students and prepare them for success.
Attendees’ suggestions shared a common theme: Give parents, students, and teachers a single place to learn about Manchester’s many community supports:
- Design an app that gives parents, students, and teachers a single place to learn about the youth-serving organizations that best fits their needs. Users could search by location, ages served, or the services offered, whether it be homework help, STEM classes, or after-school care that offers team-building skills and and time to socialize with friends. Teachers could use the app to find agencies that have already been vetted by the school district. It would be available in multiple languages and highlight financial aid opportunities.
- Create a community connection committee with representatives from the Board of School Committee; elementary, middle, and high schools; and the youth-serving agencies. That kind of partnership would ensure that everyone better understands the needs of students and the community supports that can help.
- Use email, text messaging, and a website with links to all of the city’s youth-serving agencies a publicizes upcoming community events.
- Identify and support individuals within the school district who know students’ needs, such as school counselors. “They are that link between child, teacher, and family,” said one attendee. “They can let children and families know what resources are available and what programs would be most appropriate. They are already doing a lot of what we are talking about.”
The following organizations were represented at our session: