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4 big questions from the Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships webinar

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4 big questions from the Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships webinar

Earlier this month, the Forum for Youth Investment hosted a webinar as part of their series on the new research from the National Academies of Sciences, “Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth”, made possible by the Wallace Foundation. This webinar, entitled “Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships”, presented in partnership with Every Hour Counts and the Afterschool Alliance, discussed the importance of partnerships in supporting student success by highlighting best practices and program examples of school and community collaboration. Now more than ever it is critical for various stakeholders and unlikely partners to come together to help combat the trauma that youth are facing as a result of COVID-19. This summer in particular is a time to be creative—demand for resources and support has gone up, so programs will need to lean on partners to help connect the dots and meet unmet needs.

This webinar was unique in that it was interactive, and allowed participants to share examples of community collaboration and how they are utilizing their partnerships to support students this summer.

Participants were asked to respond to four main questions:

  1. In your community, how are summer programs/out-of-school time and schools collaborating? How are these partnerships happening?

Programs talked about partnerships with groups such as Parks and Recreation, school nurses, food banks, churches, and local libraries. These partnerships can help in providing available space for kids to spread out this summer, providing meals or meal deliveries, maintaining student health, and creating activity kits. Partnerships with schools has allowed programs to better understand student needs and help meet those needs, as well as share professional development opportunities and best practices.

  1. How can summer and school-year collaboration support the physical and social-emotional health of all students, especially children experiencing trauma? What family engagement strategies are you using? What about students with chronic health conditions?

First and foremost, programs emphasized the need for professional development in areas such as social-emotional learning and trauma informed care. Programs also discussed partnerships with school counselors, psychologists, and other support staff to check in on student needs throughout the summer. Further, programs discussed strategies such as creating a safe space, planning for opening circles and reflection time, incorporating daily mindfulness sessions, and utilizing community partners to put together self-care packages for youth.

  1. How can partnerships help all children get ready for the school-year? How can collaboration help students develop career skills this summer?

Programs discussed partnerships with college students and local universities, as well as with libraries to provide books for kids to read over the summer. In addition, participants talked about cities increasing efforts to support summer youth employment programs. For example, in Charlotte, North Carolina, instead of cancelling the program like a lot of cities have done, they strengthened their partnerships with local companies to continue to serve students through paid online skills training and certifications. Other cities like Boston and Detroit have also increased their summer youth employment efforts.

  1. What resources are working to help give young people a voice? How can collaboration help students take action?

Programs talked about having listening sessions, student blogs, a student youth advisory board, and using social media and other platforms like TikTok to elevate student voices in sharing their experiences with everything going on right now, from COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter. They also discussed encouraging young people to have representation on your schools wellness council to share their voice related to physical health, social-emotional health, and the trauma they have experienced during this time.

Afterschool and summer providers have always been great at bringing various stakeholders together. This summer in particular this collaboration is needed to address the broader losses that are happening throughout the country. As one participant said, “we can’t be all things by ourselves, but we’re stronger together”.

To watch the full webinar, click here.

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