A Community School is more than just a building where kids go to learn history and algebra. It’s a place, a partnership, and a state of mind – all at the same time. Community Schools are sites for all kinds of learning and growth: academic, social, emotional and relational. Students at Community Schools learn that they belong in school, where there is a community that cares for them. Their families learn that their participation and engagement in their child’s education is invaluable, and that their school will go the extra mile to get it. Staff at Community Schools learn that they don’t have to work in isolation, but can reach out to community organizations to help them help their students.
So how does it work? It starts with a partnership between a school district and a nonprofit who agree to work together to serve the needs of the students beyond academics, needs ranging from food and clothing to counseling and recovery services to healthcare and transportation. The nonprofit, or lead agency, then reaches out to other community organizations to build partnerships that make a wide array of resources and services as accessible as possible to students in schools. The idea is to weave networks of support that already exist in the community into the life of the school, so that students and families can spend less time worrying about how they’re going to access the services they need to survive and thrive, and more time thinking about their schoolwork.
In 2014, TOGETHER! partnered with Tumwater School District on just such an initiative and now, in our third year, Community Schools has grown to a vital piece of Tumwater’s student support program and, in the 2016-2017 school year, expanded into three high-need elementary schools for the first time. Listed below are just a few of the exciting programs we have developed to serve our students:
If you or your organization are interested in partnering with us, let us know! We are always looking for volunteers to help us fundraise, plan events and keep our resource centers stocked! Here’s who to call:
Arianne Sandel, Michael T. Simmons Elementary, Peter G. Schmidt Elementary, and Black Lake Elementary Community Schools Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-972-0319
Jennifer Gould, Tumwater Middle School and Black Hills High School Community Schools Manager, Jennifer.email@example.com, 360-999-0546
Lindsey Bates, Bush Middle School and Tumwater High School Community Schools Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-742-7083
Cynthia Spencer, AmeriCorps VISTA for Community Schools, email@example.com, 360-972-4519
Since the fall of 2014, TOGETHER! has been building networks of support for students in the Tumwater community thanks to a strong partnership with Tumwater School District. This summer, another district has stepped up to join us in the work of supporting the whole children, teens, and families who make up our school communities. Congratulations, Yelm Community Schools, for partnering with us to providing comprehensive services to your students and their families.
Yelm Community Schools is one of the fastest growing districts in the state, and they recognize the value of community partnerships in ensuring their students get the supports they need all the way from pre-kindergarten through high school graduation. To start, TOGETHER! will place a full-time staff member in Yelm’s two middle schools: Yelm Middle School and Ridgeline Middle School. With the support of an AmeriCorps VISTA, they will begin to build the bridges between school and community resources that eventually turn into a comprehensive system of support, a safety net that can catch our most vulnerable students when they need us the most.
Thank you, Yelm Community Schools, for making this commitment to your students, and welcome to TOGETHER!’s powerful network of partners!
TOGETHER! is thrilled to announce our participation in the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound's Give Local campaign!
Give Local is an opportunity for the community to support the rural expansion of TOGETHER!'s Community Schools initiative, and with Give Local, your support goes even further thanks to a generous matching grant by the Dawkins Charitable Trust.
To view and support TOGETHER!'s campaign, visit our campaign page. You can support us by donating, liking, sharing the campaign, commenting on our social media posts, and telling your friends! If you wish to share the campaign with your networks, you can sign up as a Champion under the "Champions" tab. Learn more about what you can do as a Champion by reading this Champion Guide.
All proceeds from the campaign will support the expansion of Community Schools programming in Yelm and Rochester through Yelm Community Schools and Right From the Start. You can help make sure that all kids in Thurston County have the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life! Thank you for your support.
A well-connected community is a safe and healthy community. That's what we believe. In Rainier, TOGETHER! has supported the Rainier Community Cares (RCC) coalition since 2011 in order to foster positive opportunities for youth and family to gather and connect in drug- and alcohol-free environments.
This summer, RCC is planning several events in Rainier to bring the community together for family-friendly fun and community support. We will be showing two movies in Wilkowski Park, starting at dusk:
July 6th: A Wrinkle in Time
August 17th: A Dog's Purpose
Then, on August 29th, join us for a Resource Fair at Rainier Middle School from 3-5pm to find and access community resources and support systems, all in one place. More information about community partners and resources will be available on our website and Facebook page soon.
We hope you have a safe and healthy summer, and we'll see you at the movies and resource fair!
This is the official notice of TOGETHER!’s intent to apply for funding for the expansion of our 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The new grant will cover two middle schools in North Thurston Public Schools, serving approximately 100 students with before- and after-school academic enrichment programming, including several community partnerships. This is a competitive grant process with funding status to be determined in August 2018. Our elementary school Club House programs will be unaffected by the status of this grant through the 2018-19 school year. If you are interested in reviewing the grant in its entirety, please contact Meagan Darrow at MDarrow@thurstonTOGETHER.org. The full grant will also be posted HERE after the submission deadline, which is 4pm on Thursday, May 24th.
TOGETHER!’s annual Awards of Excellence is an opportunity to honor those youth whose grace and strength shine through the stories of success they share with us. In the last two years since the event’s return, we’ve awarded youth who have balanced their academic and career goals with family responsibilities and personal circumstances. Awards of Excellence honorees parent young children; support friends, family members, and themselves through addiction or mental health issues; and respond to injustice in their community by bringing people together to heal and take action.
These young people are exceptional not only because of their accomplishments, but because of the often-unseen challenges that they have met and struggled through on the way. Whether they face barriers due to their race, class, gender, ability, immigration status, system involvement or family structure, what Awards of Excellence honorees have in common is the resilience that defines their leadership.
Two awards will be granted based on the theme of “Service Above Self.” These will be awarded to youth who have shown leadership in service to their families and communities. Too often, acts of service that occur outside of traditional volunteer opportunities can be overlooked for recognition. We ask our nominators to look for those students who perform acts of service in their immediate communities, supporting their peers and family members, whether or not they have the time and resources to volunteer in traditional ways.
We’d like to thank Gateway Rotary for being the Presenting Sponsor of this event for the third year in a row. We are proud to continue this tradition for another year and to provide the recognition of achievement that is so vital to the continued success of our youth.
If you know a young person who you think qualifies for this award, you can nominate them here. The survey will close on March 31st, 2018.