Thursday, May 14, 2009

Project Findings

If the failing inner city environment of America is to improve and prosper, a joint effort between schools and their communities must be present. Through this research, we found that thousands of partnerships between schools and communities are taking full advantage of this symbiotic relationship and finding unparallel success. Whether it is through a community school model, as seen in the Quitman Community School, or a community-based organization, like the Harlem Children’s Zone or Logan Square Neighborhood Association, inner city community builders are developing solutions to better the lives of their residents. The shared theme of all these initiatives is empowerment. It is not enough to provide residents with quality services and programs; Members of the community and education system must all have a hand in reform to ensure long-lasting success. Cooperation is the key to the game. Financial providers, community builders, and school administration must include and empower all local residents, especially parents, so that they gain the confidence and self-respect to enact change in all that is keeping them down. So many low-income people feel the weight of the world bearing down upon them with no end in sight. The programs and strategies mentioned above instill hope in those where there was once none.
When initiating this collaboration, we found that the parents are the keystone because of their personal ties to both education and the community. Parents have the ability to rally the support of friends, relatives, and neighbors and create a trusting environment. One of the reasons residents stay away from the public school system is because they see schools as outsiders. Parents, their residential counterparts, are seen as safe and personable. When support is established and community members are involved in the planning and implementation of programs, the community develops a sense of personal importance with regards to the success of the local children. Without this connection, there is no guarantee that a program will find the support to be successful.
In addition to community builders and school members coming together, financial support is an essential factor in the outcome of inner city revitalization. Both nonprofit and for-profit, local and national, organizations are reaching out to aid these projects, but much more support is required if changes are to be seen on a large scale. There is a shared responsibility of communities and school systems to come together and make an effort to reach out to these supporters. Only when they let their voices be heard will school-community prosperity be seen on a larger scale.

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