Cities Waking Up to the Value of Church & School Partnerships

on Monday, March 02, 2015 Posted in Stories, Happenings, School Partnership Network

The idea of churches working with local schools is not new. Individual churches have been working with individual schools in regions all over the country for many years. But what is relatively new is a movement of organized efforts to expand such partnerships across entire school districts and communities, such as we're doing here in the Portland/Vancouver metro area. SPN is just one such movement that has arisen over the past few years to address this growing understanding on how best to fuel this effort.

A few minutes on Google will reveal a number of similar type programs around the country. SPN is loosely connected with a few of these movements as we work together to develop best practices and strategies for improving these partnerships. Specifically we are working closely with two such efforts, BE|UNDIVIDED, which is an outgrowth of South Lake Foursquare's partnership with Roosevelt High School; and LOVING HOUSTON, one of our key national partners for CITYSERVE.

The folks at BE|UNDIVIDED have fully documented a living demonstration of the difference one church can make in one school. Taking the lessons they learned over the past seven years from Southlake's relationship with Roosevelt, they are now offering tools, webinars, and resources for those that would like to emulate their efforts around the country. As they now expand their influence onto the national arena, they will continue to look for transferrable concepts that will work in other locales and not just in Portland.

Houston is a city of incredible economic vibrancy and diversity. Yet, it is also a city of devastating poverty and inequality. More than one in four Houston residents (one in three children) live in poverty. One in five households (one in four children) faces food insecurity. Dr. Stephen Klineberg of Rice University's Kinder Institute of Urban Research even predicts that in one generation, Houston will resemble a developing country if current educational inequality trends persist.

In the midst of increasing poverty and inequality, the Church in Houston has the opportunity to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

LOVING HOUSTON believes that local schools have become the centerpieces of our communities. Schools have an unparalleled impact on community members and provide a natural place where people gather. They asked, "What if the Church in Greater Houston embraced the opportunity to serve our schools?" Their vision is to see Greater Houston transformed by a loving Church.

These are just two examples of multiple efforts across the country who, like SPN, are working to build collaboration between churches and schools in their local area. We certainly can't do everything; but by working together we certainly can do something to make a difference.