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Want your nonprofit to partner with the school district? Here’s who to talk to

The Exchange PHL Breakfast Series. June 22, 2016 Category: EventFeaturedMethodShort
Philadelphia has a school district in which only 65 percent of students graduate from high school. It needs strategic partnerships to change that.

This past school year, the School District of Philadelphia hosted about 500 educational programs serving 130,000 students in public schools and 63,000 in charter schools that were executed by outside partners — or “resource bringers,” as the school district’s Office of Strategic Partnerships likes to call them, said Executive Director Vicki Ellis.

Ellis and Donna Frisby-Greenwood, president and CEO of The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, explained their plan for engaging more impact organizations at the most recent edition of Exchange PHL‘s Breakfast Series.

Exchange PHL Breakfast Donna long

Donna Frisby-Greenwood.

The Fund helps the Office of Strategic Partnerships coordinate strategic partners for local public schools and acts as a fiscal agent for the school district. Ellis and Michael Sonkowsky, the Office of Grants Development‘s deputy chief, both report to Frisby-Greenwood. (It’s an uncommon structure — two school district employees working under a separate nonprofit — but “programmatically, it makes sense,” Ellis said.)

From our Partners

The office considers a possible “partner” to be an organization with a specific program in mind and existing funding for it, Ellis said. The office then pairs that organization with a school that could best use its services.

For example, the Girl Scouts of America received a grant from local foundations (existing funding) to start Girl Scouts troops in middle schools (specific program), so it worked with the Office of Strategic Partnerships to find schools that could support such an initiative.

Conversely, organizations with a specific program in mind but no funding to run it might reach out to the Office of Grants Development for help in attracting that funding.

To help possible partner orgs figure out which schools might be good matches for their programs, the fund will launch an Equity Map in October that will allow orgs to look up schools based on parameters such as geographic area and grades served. Orgs can then contact the Office of Strategic Partnerships to inquire about moving forward with a partnership.

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