Community partnerships can be such a valuable asset to your school counseling program. Your community stakeholders are another piece of your stakeholder puzzle in addition to your principal, administrators, teachers, and parents! School and community partnerships may happen naturally or you may have to seek them out, but, either way, they are a vital piece of your stakeholder buy-in.
Here are ideas for 4 places to seek partnerships within your community to enrich your school counseling program and increase your stakeholder buy-in.
1- Local Mentoring Agencies
I love connecting with mentoring agencies because they often already have systems in place to set up relational mentorship opportunities. These systems may include screening volunteers, running background checks, and training adult mentors. This would be a lot of work to set up on top of what you are already doing as a school counselor; however, if you allow an agency that is already doing this to provide your school with mentors, half of your program is already done for you!
If an agency/non-profit/group can provide the mentors, you just get to connect them to the right students and facilitate their meetings. Once you have set up this system, a mentor program can basically run itself with a little bit of maintenance from you along the way.
2- Local Non-Profits
Whether they can donate time, money, volunteers, or something unique, local non-profits are a great connecting point in your community and a unique connection to stakeholder buy-in. We have non-profits that specialize in all sorts of programs that would be helpful to connect students with, so we are always happy to bring them into our school setting.
Some examples of programs near us include summer adventure programs, neighborhood bike programs, after-school academic enrichment programs, student entrepreneurial programs, and urban farming programs… just to name a few. These groups are always looking to get their program information in the hands of students.
I’ve found that school counselors are the ultimate connectors for opportunities like this. You could make the difference in creating a new opportunity for a student that they may never otherwise have!
3- Local Churches or Places of Worship
I have found that churches love partnering with schools to meet needs. Whether it’s donating food for a small group, helping set up a food pantry or clothes closet, or providing hygiene packs for students, I’ve always found churches as a helpful connection to have in the community.
4- Your PTSA
This might seem more “within the school walls” than other community partnerships, but you should consider tapping into your Parent/Teacher Association to meet some needs you may have. My school’s PTSA had a yearly grant opportunity available for staff members. This involved writing up a proposal for approval. I used my data collection and big ideas to come up with a new program that I wanted some funding for.
By showing our need with the numbers I dug up, I was able to earn a $500 grant to fund the new program. I do think that they were also willing to contribute to our school counseling program because it was something outside of the box from the regular teacher applications.
Chances are your community members are just waiting for an invitation from you to ask them about the great things you’re already doing in your school counseling program.
If you have big dreams of a new program or resource that you’d like to implement but you need more support to get it off of the ground, a community partnership may be a great place to increase stakeholder buy-in!
Make a list of potential community connections and send an email or pick up the phone and connect!
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