The DeHavilland Blog

Monday, January 05, 2009

Building infrastructure in the partnership field

I have said for some time that, within the next 5-10 years, people who know how to build community/school partnerships are going to become some of the most important people in K-12 education. Whether they are found within schools, district offices, chambers, businesses, coalitions or foundations, these people are the solution to many of the challenges we currently face in education – problems that are not going away anytime soon.

I believe that community/school collaboration is critically important. It’s the reason I started my company. It’s the reason we started the
Business/Education Partnership Forum, published our guides and survey reports, and created the Effective Education Partnerships Conference. And it’s the reason we’ve just launched the K-12 Partnership Report, a subscription-based newsletter highlighting best practices, case studies, and much more. All of these are initiatives designed to build infrastructure in the partnerships field – to connect professionals and disseminate information on what works.

But we’re just one company –if we’re going to build an industry network, we all need to play a role. If you look at other professional fields, they have a level of structure that we lack, including publications (books, newsletters, etc.), directories, associations, events, original research, and more. To elevate the prominence and practice of partnership development, we need to put these things into place as well. Only then can we connect with, and learn from, one another; raise awareness of the value of partnerships as a means to support, improvement, and reform; and begin to forge the national legislative and corporate relationships we need to further advance the field.

(As an aside: I know that there are some excellent organizations already in place, including some operating at the state level, such as
TAPE, FAPE, and MACEF; and that there are some excellent national groups, such as NSFA and MENTOR, focused on one band of the very large partnership spectrum. I’m suggesting that there needs to be a national umbrella organization for the many types of partnership models out there, operating as a membership and/or advocacy/lobbying group, much as NAPE used to do.)

So I’m asking everyone to think about how they can help to create the industry connections that we need. Regardless of the type of initiative, there are many roles to be filled: you can serve as a leader, an organizer, a volunteer, or an underwriter. And there are many types of initiatives that need to be tackled: creation of a national organization; production of new research (practices, scope of the field, pilot programs, etc.); development of a professional certification model; and much more.

If you want to make something happen, let me know: we want to help.


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