Collaborations between schools and community partners are vital to meeting the needs of students and families experiencing homelessness in our state. More than one hundred people dedicated to doing just that — homeless student liaisons, school-based student support staff, housing service providers, and others — came together on May 19th for our School/Housing Community Partnership Convening. The in-person event was an engaging and impactful day of shared learning to strengthen collaboration between schools and community-based organizations. Poet, educator, and keynote speaker for the event Christian Paige opened with an inspiring spoken-word performance of his Emmy-nominated poem, “Trees”, a story of community. His words set the perfect tone for an event grounded in sharing resources and working together to make sure young people and their families have what they need.
A variety of speakers and presentations offered strategies and tools for building effective partnerships between schools and community organizations.
- The Student Family Stability Initiative presented by partners from exemplified the power of collaborative efforts in providing stable housing for students and families experiencing homelessness.
- Youth Development Executives of King County shared resources from their School and Community Partnership Toolkit, including a planning tool to aid in the beginning stages of forming a partnership. By defining different types of partnerships and outlining clear processes and expectations for each, participants gained valuable insights on how to build a strong foundation for collaboration.
Breakout sessions provided an opportunity for attendees to engage in hands-on activities and connect with each other, including:
- Creating personal “ecomaps” allowed participants to identify and brainstorm ways to tap into existing and potential partners within their own communities. Participants shared that the exercise fostered creative thinking and helped them generate ideas for new opportunities.
- Sessions on “Reimagining Resilience” facilitated by Belong Partners delved into innovative approaches to nurturing resilience in students. Participants learned strategies for creating trauma-informed environments to support students in building essential life skills, empowering them to thrive both academically and in their personal lives.
- Dimitri Groce, Strategic Advisor of Housing Initiatives at Building Changes, led a session on Diversion in Schools, a strengths-based problem-solving approach to resolve housing crisis quickly. Participants learned how this approach can be applied in school-settings to provide flexible, tailored options to meet the needs of students and families.
Overall, the School/Housing Community Partnership Convening was a space for inspiration, collaboration, resource-sharing, and community building. The dedication and enthusiasm demonstrated by everyone in attendance underscored a collective commitment to ensuring that Washington’s students and families experiencing homelessness have the support they need to maintain housing stability and to thrive.
- Access materials and resources from the convening
- We stand in solidarity with Homeless Student Liaisons – you should too.
Thank you to our partners: Christian Paige, Neighborhood House, Highline Public Schools, Tukwila School District, King County Housing Authority, Belong Partners, Youth Development Executives of King County, Puget Sound Educational Service District, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).