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, email@example.com, 360-972-0319
Jennifer Gould, Tumwater Middle School and Black Hills High School Community Schools Manager, Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-999-0546
Lindsey Bates, Bush Middle School and Tumwater High School Community Schools Manager, email@example.com, 360-742-7083
Cynthia Spencer, AmeriCorps VISTA for Community Schools, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
This month, TOGETHER! participated in the first ever Give Local online giving campaign, and we are amazed by the results! Fifty of you donated to our campaign, raising $3,550 to support the expansion of Community Schools into Rochester and Yelm. Your support helps us create more school-based Community Resource Centers, connect more students and families with needed resources, and build more supportive communities for all our young people. Thank you! We can't do this work without you.
We'd also like to thank the Community Foundation for coordinating Give Local; Coldwell Banker, Greene Realty, and Olympia Federal Savings for sponsoring the campaign; South Sound Partners for Philanthropy for sponsoring Giving Bonus Wednesdays; and the Dawkins Charitable Trust for providing a matching grant, ensuring that your donations will go even further.
These funds will support programs like Right From the Start, which coordinates story times and play groups for children ages 0-5 while coordinating resources for their families, and Yelm Community Schools, which connects middle school students and their families in Yelm to networks of support to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in school. All of our Community Schools programs share, at their core, our values of equity, community mobilization, and systems change. We believe that all students deserve an equal chance to succeed in school and in life, and we are committed to building systems that work for everyone. But we can't do it alone -- your support means so much. Thank you for being a part of our community!
Tumwater School District and TOGETHER! have been working together for three years to bring necessary in-school support to the students of Tumwater and beyond. One of our most powerful and popular programs is the annual Back to Basics event series, where volunteers from the medical community come together to provide back-to-school care to students at no cost.
Our first Back to Basics event took place on August 1st at Tumwater High School. An incredible team of volunteers from Tumwater Family Practice, Providence Tumwater Valley Physical Therapy, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, Providence Sports Medicine, St. Peter Family Medicine, Tumwater Vision Health, and Tumwater School District’s own Health & Wellness Department provided free sports physicals to over 250 middle and high school students. Participation in after-school sports is shown to increase school engagement and pro-social behavior in students, but lack of medical access is a common barrier that prevents students from accessing these benefits. At Back to Basics Sports Physicals Clinic, we not only provide sports physicals for free, but also work to connect families with insurance coverage and primary care physicians, so that the rest of their healthcare needs can be met into the future.
The second and final event was the Back to Basics Immunizations Clinic on August 22nd at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School. Immunizations were administered by Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps and community partners Hands On Children’s Museum, South Sound Reading Foundation, Tumwater Youth Programs, CHOICE Regional Health Network, Tumwater School District, South Sound YMCA, Head Start, and Tumwater Timberland Library tabled outside the clinic with information and resources. In all, the clinic served 88 families and 105 students. Among those 105, 132 vaccinations were given to 65 students who needed additional immunization to meet school requirements.
Financial support for Back to Basics 2017 was provided by Kaiser Permanente, City of Tumwater, and Tumwater Walmart.
Nominees are middle and high school students; scholarships available
Left to right: SPSCC Foundation Development Manager Anne Larson, scholarship recipient Aylin Gonzalez-Ramirez holding her daughter, and Thurston County Commissioner Bud Blake at the 2016 Awards of Excellence Ceremony. Credit Shanna Paxton Photography.
Local youth will be recognized for their resilience in the face of adversity at youth development nonprofit TOGETHER!’s annual Awards of Excellence ceremony on May 13th, 2017 at South Puget Sound Community College. Five or more nominees, selected by a committee of event organizers and key partners, will receive scholarships, sponsored by Gateway
Rotary and other organizations. All nominees will see their pictures and stories printed in The Olympian, and be honored at the ceremony, where they and their families will be invited to enjoy dessert with representatives from their nominating schools and programs.
Nominations are currently being solicited from middle and high schools as well as some youth- serving community organizations in Thurston and Mason Counties. Nominators are encouraged to consider the diversity of their communities in selecting their nominees.
Last year, TOGETHER! honored 32 exceptional children and youth for their strength and leadership as part of their first Awards of Excellence ceremony since 2012. Gateway Rotary, TwinStar Credit Union, and South Puget Sound Community College Foundation sponsored four $1,000 scholarships and one full-year SPSCC tuition waiver, which were awarded to five deserving students.
TOGETHER! is a local nonprofit organization that engages and mobilizes families, schools and the community to advance the health, safety and success of our youth. They educate about issues affecting the community; work for laws, policies and community practices that support positive youth development; and provide direct services to children, youth and families. They work with coalitions and partnerships to improve effectiveness.
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