2. It takes a village: a promising model for the role of universities and communities in dropout prevention
The University of North Carolina-Wilmington gave some great workshops during the conference, including one that featured a coalition developed by their Watson School of Education to encourage a community-based, collaborative approach to dropout prevention. The coalition includes representatives from public schools, parent-teacher organizations, nonprofits, and religious organizations whose initial goal was to raise awareness about dropout prevention and bring a comprehensive set of resources to the table. Since it began last year, the coalition has expanded to conduct shared programming and research that highlights best practices and matches needs to existing resources.
There are three particularly noteworthy elements of this effort. First, no money is on the table. Instead, partners came together because they share the mission of preventing dropout. Plain and simple. While there are plans to fundraise, this coalition did not come together as the result of a grant (or a grant requirement), which means it has a far better chance at sustainability than efforts where money does the leveraging. Moreover, this approach has allowed the coalition to instead focus on making connections between existing needs and assets that needed better coordination, not more dollars.
Second, a huge part of this effort is about information sharing. As a research center at a university not unlike UNCW, we see one of our most important roles as serving as a knowledge base, linking practitioners to research, data, and best practices that they rarely have time to uncover themselves. In this case, UNCW is working with the National Dropout Prevention Center and its own faculty to share examples of what works with schools and community partners across the region, again at low or no cost.
Third: UNCW is eager to share this model with other communities who think this kind of coalition could work to address their own dropout challenges. Their own enthusiasm for collaborating outside of southeastern North Carolina is particularly encouraging, and they’re sharing how-to information on their
We think this is an approach that is most definitely worth investigating in our own community. Interested? Let us know!