Community partners can play a major role in supporting school-wide wellness efforts. Established community-based organizations (CBOs) and local businesses share your vision for healthy communities, invest in community improvement initiatives, and have already garnered strong trust and credibility. Hallways to Health sites found invaluable support from local food banks, hospitals, gyms, YMCAs, nonprofits, universities, and businesses to support their school wellness goals. These partners donated goods, services, and grant funding to support the school-wide wellness efforts.
Partnerships with local organizations lend credible and authoritative expertise, lead to resource sharing, care coordination, and increased service delivery to achieve a collective impact. The relationship is bidirectional; CBOs and businesses can expand their outreach and brand visibility across the community by participating in highly visible school wellness efforts.
Partnering with community-based organizations and businesses with a shared vision for healthy communities can offer the following benefits:
- Resources and funding to enhance your school-wide wellness efforts.
- Valuable insight on conditions required for community health and wellness based on their established programs and trusting relationships.
1. Find and prioritize partners that successfully serve your population and share a common mission of healthy, thriving youth.
Consider nonprofits, local businesses, and faith-based organizations–asset mapping can help you.
Articulate how the partnership will benefit both organizations.
3. Build formal partnerships with CBOs through memorandums of understandings (MOUs) that allow partners to offer their services to your students and staff both in your school and at the CBO.
- Define your shared goals, responsibilities, accountabilities, and resources.
- Develop joint protocols, policies, and workflows with CBOs to outline each party’s roles and responsibilities to coordinate care.
- Share the limelight. Acknowledge each partner’s contribution in publications, presentations, and marketing.
Stories from the Field
At Roosevelt Middle School, Oakland, CA, the SBHC staff created gender-specific and culturally based Healing Circles to improve student social skills, increase non-violent conflict resolution, and reduce bullying and violence. The Unity Council, a local CBO, facilitated the healing circles for Latino boys in the first year. Circles increased students’ civic engagement, cultural pride, self-esteem, social emotional health, and overall wellbeing. After the first year, Roosevelt signed an MOU with The Unity Council to continue facilitating the Latino boy’s circles. This partnership reduced Roosevelt Health Center costs, and guaranteed the continuity of the Healing Circle. See Scope of work, MOU sample (Professional Service Agreement), and MOU Sample (MOU Template) from La Clínica de la Raza.
At Whitefoord Elementary School, Atlanta, GA, SBHC staff created a space for school employees to focus on their wellness– to gather, stretch, meditate, and eat healthily. The Program Coordinator envisioned creating a calm and inviting atmosphere for staff, but she needed the resources to transform the messy space to a wellness oasis. She asked the local Home Depot for funds or donations to absorb the renovation costs. The Program Coordinator was persistent in her communication with the store manager, who eventually offered to fund new furniture and donate plants for the space. The school wellness team got to work, renovating the space and preparing it for the staff.
At Turner Elementary School Albany, GA, SBHC professionals learned about various school-wide wellness funding opportunities, through Hallways to Health and Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The SBHC staff took initiative to apply for and received a grant to build a track. The district wellness committee advocated for the track as a place to host school fundraisers and health events, and to provide an accessible physical fitness opportunity for the school and community. The school board matched the funds, approved the track, and oversaw the construction process.
At Milwaukie High School, Milwaukee, OR, SBHC staff collaborates with local organizations to provide comprehensive safety net services for food, housing, and clothing to their community. Partners include the school Homeless Liaison, Chartwells (District nutrition service provider), Planned Parenthood, Oregon Food Bank, Harvest Share, North Clackamas Family Support Center, and the Wichita Center for Family and Community. The SBHC staff provides referrals and warm hand- offs to each partner for case management. Additional partners participate in a community advisory committee, which meets monthly to facilitate communication between the school community and the SBHC staff, discuss community concerns, market the wellness services, and review school and SBHC policies. View the North Clackamas School District Handbook.