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Community Partnerships

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SPS School and Community Partnerships

Mission and Vision

The mission of the School and Community Partnerships Department (SCP) is to build collaborative, cross-sector partnership systems that facilitate a consistent and student-centered ecosystem of supports and experiences for students.

SCP’s vision is that Seattle Public Schools and Community Partners build transformational, equity-driven, anti-racist partnerships that spark students’ curiosity, affirm their identities, and support them to thrive in school and in life.

Areas of Focus

Our department collaborates with partners representing our district, community-based organizations (CBOs) and public agencies. We seek to build new and improved ways of collaborating with partners across sectors so that we can find alignment in our shared work of serving our youth and work together to provide the right supports for partnerships to thrive.

Our department is committed to creating and offering supports that build the capacity of schools and community based organizations to effectively and authentically partner. We also work to create connections between Seattle Public Schools (SPS) departments and partners, especially to promote alignment with district priorities and key initiatives. To see the rich calendar of professional learning opportunities our department and partners have jointly organized for community-based organizations, visit our Professional Development page.

In order to support consistent, high-quality partnerships, our office is engaged in building and improving partnership onboarding processes, establishing key partnership tools and processes, and providing technical assistance. In addition, we will build systems to better match schools and partners, to support principals to effectively select partners that will meet their students’ needs, and to support both schools and community-based organizations to align services and work through challenges.

Our department seeks to create consistent and accessible systems for collecting feedback from CBOs that center students of color furthest from educational justice, as well as centering Black-led and culturally-responsive CBOs to inform partnership models, approaches and supports for schools and partnering organizations.

Strategic Initiatives

The SCP Department has a number of strategic initiatives. These initiatives are borne from strong, intentional partnerships with major strategic partners that are supporting Seattle Public Schools to improve outcomes for children.

This initiative aims to address and end the pervasive cycle of multi-generational poverty in our community in an innovative way. Together, we focus on improving the educational outcomes of low-income children and youth as a strategy to support families and strengthen our broader community. Read more about the district housing partnerships.

The Community Alignment Initiative is a framework that guides how schools and school-based before and after school licensed child care programs, community learning centers, and school-based health centers work collectively to support the academic pursuits, social and emotional development, and overall well-being of students. Visit our Aligned Partners page to learn more

Creative Advantage is a public-private partnership between the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Foundation and community-based organizations. Through this partnership, we work to ensure equitable implementation of the arts for all students in the District. Visit the Creative Advantage website to learn more.

The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning and Seattle Public Schools are working in partnership to implement strategic investments in select elementary, middle and high schools during the school year, summer learning programs, physical and mental health supports, and community-based family support organizations.    

In 2011 Seattle University launched the Seattle University Youth Initiative, a long-term commitment which unites campus and the wider community to improve the academic achievement of low-income youth living in the greater Yesler Terrace/Bailey Gatzert neighborhood. For more information on how the partnership functions and lesson learned thus far, check out this report from Cohen Research and Evaluation.

Partnership Recognition

Our community is enriched by the hundreds of community partnerships that celebrate, engage, and support the students and families of Seattle Public Schools. Strong partnerships between schools, our central office, and community-based organizations are key to ensuring that every student has the supports they need to thrive. Below is a selection of just a few of the amazing partnerships that positively impacted Seattle Public Schools students during the 2021-22 school year, nominated by members of our community.

Have a celebration to share? We want to hear about it! Use this form to tell us more.

FamilyWorks is a local organization whose mission is to connect neighbors and families with nourishing food, essential resources, and a supportive community so people can build resiliency to meet life’s challenges. FamilyWorks has continued to grow since their incorporation in 1995, and now operates two Food Banks and a Family Resource Center and provide additional services through their Mobile Food Pantry and satellite Resource Center at Nathan Hale High School.

The FamilyWorks partnership with Nathan Hale High School began as a pilot program in 2020 and has continued ever since. The response from individuals and families who have sought services from FamilyWorks at Nathan Hale has been overwhelmingly positive. The weekly diaper and wipe distribution has been particularly popular and supported many families to reduce their spending on these much needed and costly items. Others have benefited from the Community Connectors’ assistance, finding rental assistance, clothing, utility payment assistance, employment, legal aid and more. Many participants have appreciated FamilyWorks’ ability to provide translation services that make resources more accessible and reduce barriers to a broad spectrum of programs and benefits. Family members report that the tremendous support they received from FamilyWorks Community Connectors has been vital to helping their household when they need additional resources.

What has helped this partnership thrive is the immense support from Nathan Hale High School, especially in shaping the vision for this satellite Family Resource Center. The Family Resource Center model to offer low-barrier services and programs has provided the ability to meet new families, school staff, and other partners which led to more opportunities to ensure all families that are furthest from educational justice have a connection to the resources they need for students to thrive.

You may contact FamilyWorks if you know of a family in Seattle Public Schools who you think could use support. Call the FamilyWorks Community Connectors, Anisa and Morgan, at 206-694-6849.

The Michael J Owen Music Education Fund (MJOMEF) partners with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to hire professional musicians to assist music teachers with a group of students or one-on-one music instruction and coaching. This partnership has been working alongside SPS staff for many years providing invaluable resources to support students’ engagement in music education, with the goal of helping our music students thrive in playing their musical instruments. In September 2020, MJOMEF expanded its support to Franklin High School, providing professional coaches two days a week for band and orchestra classes. These coaches assist the teacher by lending professional expertise, giving students individual attention, teaching advanced techniques, repairing small instrument issues, and are an invaluable part of the classroom community. This support was integral in supporting band and orchestra students in performing for the Franklin High School musical in 2022, The Addams Family. Teacher collaboration has been a key part of this partnership since teachers work with MJOMEF program staff to provide feedback that help the partnership thrive. As a result, this partnership plays a significant role in supporting students with the resources otherwise unavailable that they need to pursue their passion for music and arts education.

You can learn about the work of the Michael J Owen Music Education Fund on their website.

Seattle Public Schools has worked with many incredible partners throughout the last school year to support access to COVID vaccination for our school communities. Othello Station Pharmacy is one partner that received multiple nominations for their critical work to increase access to COVID vaccinations and provide high-quality care to our entire community, with a focus on Southeast Seattle students and families.

Othello Station Pharmacy is a Black-owned pharmacy with staff that speak 8 languages and reflect the cultural identities of our Southeast Seattle communities. This contributes to being a trusted neighborhood pharmacy that can meet the needs of our shared students and families. Through this partnership, Othello Station Pharmacy provided staffing and vaccinations for 60+ COVID vaccination clinics. Many clinics occurred at school sites and served students, staff, and families. Maple Elementary School alone was able to vaccinate and provide boosters to over 500 families with the support of this important partnership. Through this partnership Othello Station Pharmacy helped families reduce barriers to COVID vaccination and contributed to Seattle Public Schools having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

To learn more about Othello Station Pharmacy and the services they provide, please visit their website.

Rainier Valley Food Bank and Wellsprings Family Services are two organizations, each with a long history of supporting students and families in Seattle to gain access to critical resources and services. Wellspring is an organization committed to preventing homelessness for families by providing services to help families find housing stability. Rainier Valley Food Bank (RVFB) helps more than 8000 individuals each year gain access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally sensitive food.

RVFB and Wellsprings also both seek to build community and empower individuals with knowledge and skills to thrive. This is evident in the partnership they have sustained with one Franklin High School teacher, working together to provide community-based job training for high school students. The students participating in this partnership gain access to job skills, supportive relationships, professional references, and experience working in a customer service environment. The mentorship received from RVFB and Wellspring staff helps students build confidence and agency in a supportive environment.

One Wellsprings staff member wrote:

“It was wonderful to see [student’s] confidence grow each time they volunteered, and I could see improvements in their work each week. I was also proud to work in partnership with a program that prepares students to succeed post-graduation through job-based training in the community”

Students also learned teamwork and strengthened their peer relationships, by working together to complete tasks. An added benefit to this partnership was increased visibility for the services provided by each partner in the community. This partnership thrived because of the joint commitment of school-based staff and partners working together to give our youth access to valuable skills and experiences.

The Seattle Chinese Alliance Church has been partnering with Dearborn Park Elementary for the last 20 years to support students, staff, and community members. Staff members at Dearborn Park nominated the Seattle Chinese Alliance Church, led by Pastor Roy Chang, for their ongoing commitment to provide a range of supports from basic needs to academic enrichment. The Seattle Chinese Alliance Church collaboratively plans supports alongside school leaders that will meet the needs of students and families and has become an integral part of ensuring every student has the resources they need to thrive. These supports include afterschool programming focused on academic enrichment and cultural identity, year-round wrap services for basic needs and emergency assistance, parent education classes, teacher appreciation activities, community clean-up events, family celebrations, and more! A key to this powerful partnership has been a close relationship with the Dearborn Park school leaders, working directly with school staff to align their curriculum and supports and ensure students furthest from educational justice have access to programming and resources. Thank you Seattle Chinese Alliance Church and Pastor Roy Chang for your partnership!

The Space Between is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 to support well-being by bringing mindfulness practices to school communities in the Greater Seattle Area. At Hawthorne Elementary the Space Between partners with nine teachers to integrate mindfulness practices into their classrooms. Through these engaging lessons, students and staff learn life-long skills to support strong relationships, wellness, and social emotional regulation. Students and staff have built a common language around managing stress and strong emotions, and the impact on the Hawthorne school community has been felt by all.

One of the Space Between staff members started working with a Kindergarten class during remote learning, partnering once a week to teach lessons on mindfulness and breathing and bring joy through virtual dance parties. This relationship carried over into the following year when the same staff member got to meet with students in person. Says their teacher, Ms. Kribbs:

“This year, I looped to first grade with my students, and we got to be with Kara-Lee in person! In some ways, this year was harder on all of us. There was so much pressure to fill in gaps, to push toward those second-grade standards and a need to learn how to be an independent student since my kids missed their introduction year to Hawthorne. There was homelessness, family stress and a lot of social learning to do. During our Space Between sessions, we could STOP. We could make space for ourselves to breathe and think and listen. Kara-Lee taught me so much about how to intentionally pause our classroom and check-in with ourselves and each other before delving back in. It was such an important part of how we have moved forward through this pandemic. Thank you Space Between!”

To learn more about Space Between, please visit their website

Washington Building Leaders of Change (WA-BLOC) is an organization whose mission is to build and nurture intergenerational leaders through transformative education and revolutionary social action. WA-BLOC partners with Emerson Elementary School, where they worked together this last school year to implement restorative justice. This partnership was nominated because of its transformational impact on the Emerson school community. As a part of this partnership WA-BLOC has implemented a Tier 1 curriculum in response to student and staff feedback and hosted multiple Professional Development opportunities for staff to learn and apply restorative justice practices. WA-BLOC also led a cohort of 35 student circle keepers through a 6-week training focused on conflict resolution and restorative justice principles. The impact of this work was seen through decreased instances of harm throughout the school year.

In addition to WA-BLOC’s restorative justice programming, they also partner with Emerson to run a literacy-based summer school program at Emerson each summer. Several of the enrolled students were also trained in Restorative Practices and get to show up for their peers as leaders in keeping the peace and managing conflict. WA-BLOC also engages families through family game night, creating space to bring students and families together to build community and connection. This partnership is so successful because of the commitment of the school staff and administration, as well as the integration of WA-BLOC into leadership teams, staff meetings, and regular building communication.

To learn more and hear from students, watch this video of a few Peacekeepers sharing what it means to be a peacekeeper.


To get an idea of the many programs and services available in Seattle and King County, visit our SPS Community Partner Platform and the Elevate Washington program directory.

We periodically send out emails to our partners with updates and opportunities. If you would like to be added to this email list, email us at communitypartnerships@seattleschools.org