Elements for Successful Collaboration Between K-8 School, Community Agency, and University Partners: The Lead Peace Partnership

Authors


Linda M. Bosma, Coinvestigator, (linda@bosmaconsulting.com), 3422 44th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Researchers, schools, and community organizations are increasingly interested in forming partnerships to improve health and learning outcomes for adolescents. School-based service learning programs with young adolescents have been shown to improve students' health and educational outcomes. Quality school-based service learning practice requires partnerships that are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs. This article examines core elements of a community-school-university partnership engaged in implementing and evaluating Lead Peace, a service learning program for urban middle school youth.

METHODS: The partnership was assessed through (1) semistructured group interviews with program facilitators at each school at the end of the 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008 school years; (2) key informant interviews with school administrators; and (3) participant observations of partnership meetings. Qualitative analysis was conducted to identify common and emerging themes that contribute to the success of the Lead Peace partnership.

RESULTS: Ten themes were identified as keys to the success of the Lead Peace partnership: (1) communication; (2) shared decision making; (3) shared resources; (4) expertise and credibility; (5) sufficient time to develop and maintain relationships; (6) champions and patron saints; (7) being present; (8) flexibility; (9) a shared youth development orientation; and (10) recognition of other partners' priorities.

CONCLUSIONS: Partnerships that are essential to quality service learning practice require deliberate planning and ongoing attention. Elements of the successful Lead Peace partnership may be useful for other collaborators to consider.

Ancillary