The decisions and partnerships should stem from the needs, issues, and concerns of the parents and communities, while also identifying the needs and concerns of the schools. This approach builds community buy-in to create a partnership that addresses and resolves the jointly identified issues and concerns in the schools and communities.
We need to balance power dynamics through equitable representation of stakeholders by ensuring that CBOs can take a lead role in proposal development and access funds directly for awarded projects. RTT-D is also working to increase the leadership and governance role that CBOs play.
It is crucial to sustain a common vision and continue conversations about equity. As noted in RTI’s report, RTT-D stakeholders often had differing perspectives on the roles, expectations, and strategies of cross-organizational partnerships. Systems change requires an alignment of vision.
More supports are needed to increase capacity for genuine partnerships to take shape and sustain. The creation of partnerships for authentic teaming and building trust takes time. Creating new relationships and ways of working together is an iterative, collaborative, and organic process, and the time must be compensated for all parties (CBOs and community members) in order to sustain full, continuous and equitable engagement. For example:
Funding time is needed for CBOs to attend partner meetings, and participate in planning and design discussions, as well as in grant preparation. We need to recognize and compensate the time commitment needed for authentic partnerships to develop, conversations to happen, and relationships to form.
District and school staff need to be engaged throughout the process on a consistent basis and have adequate time and support for these additional responsibilities. Districts/schools need more supports and resources in order to stay continuously engaged, for it is challenging for them to commit the time and add additional activities to their already packed schedules.