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Community Partnerships

Boys in class

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 over the last 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.

The Chinese Information Service Center (CISC) has been partnering closely with Seattle Public Schools for over 15 years. The focus of their partnership is to provide youth development, academic support, family engagement and advocacy, as well as family workshops to SPS students and families. Throughout their partnership, Chinese Information Service Center (CISC) has helped create bridges between school communities, district departments, and our Chinese community. CISC is truly an advocate for the students and families they serve, building trusting relationships with many SPS schools and departments as well as families to improve the flow of communication between them. With the support of CISC workshops, families learned how to communicate with their student’s school and advocate for their student’s educational rights.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Information Service Center has helped families get access to resources, academic support, social emotional supports, and help navigating technology. Particularly for students who newly immigrated during the pandemic, CISC was a critical advocate to make sure that schools and teachers knew how to best support students navigating virtual learning while also learning a new language and a new culture. Their partnership continuously reflects their commitment to advocacy and authentic family engagement. Visit the CISC website to learn more about their programs

City Year Seattle is a non-profit that partners with multiple schools in Seattle Public Schools. During the 2020-21 school year, City Year partnered with Rising Star to provide small groups for students in math and literacy, social emotional learning activities, and enrichment activities before, during, and after school.

 To maximize the impact of their partnership, City Year worked with Rising Star interventionists and teachers to align small group supports with classroom instruction, then participated in professional learning throughout the year alongside school staff to increase collaboration and Corps Member skill. Clear progress monitoring and highly trained Corps Members made this support invaluable to students. City Year Corps Members also led after school programming virtually to support students with homework help and enrichment activities such as art, cooking, and technology. This partnership worked closely with the Rising Star PBIS Team to identify additional positive behavior recognition for students, and support with virtual assemblies for students and families.

This partnership thrived during the 2020-21 school year because City Year was flexible and willing to adapt, focused on building strong relationships with students and teachers alike, were responsive to feedback and willing to adapt programming to match the needs of Rising Star’s School community. Visit City Year Seattle’s website to learn more about their partnerships

Communities In Schools of Seattle (CISS) is a non-profit that serves multiple schools within Seattle Public Schools and has been partnering with Aki Kurose Middle School since 2010. The partnership has played an essential role in supporting students and families during the 2020-21 school year.  The CISS Site Coordinator has worked to fill these needs, connecting students and families to resources that could remove barriers to school participation. This included connecting 143 families to the Right Now Needs Fund, as well as housing and utilities assistance, food and clothing resources, and much more.

As the CISS Site Coordinator works closely with the school administration, to implement an annual school support plan, to ensure they are providing the right supports that meet community needs. By integrating themselves into the school building and attending regular staff team meetings, CISS stays connected to school wide needs and builds strong relationships throughout the building. By building trusting relationships, CISS has been a key connection between students and families and Aki Kurose Middle School, making this partnership truly impactful. Visit CISS’ website to learn more about how they support Seattle students

The Madrona Family Resource Center is a partnership between Madrona Elementary PTSA and Madrona Elementary that was started to support families with a variety of resources. When schools closed in March 2020, Madrona staff and PTSA immediately began providing weekly groceries to families through both home deliveries and a Grab & Go Pantry. This was a collective effort of the entire Madrona community working together to support one another.

The Madrona Family Resource Center reached out to partner with local food banks, organizations, and local businesses, and began a fundraising campaign called the Madrona Family Support Fund. During the past 16 months, this fund has raised more than $60,000 and served more than 120 families. Averaging 35 families per week, the Madrona Family Resource Center has given out 4,500 bags of groceries, $50,000 in grocery gift cards, and thousands of face masks, hand sanitizer, and other household items.  

Currently the Family Resource team is preparing for the future of this program to continue working together as a community to support each other in service of students. Visit their website to learn more!

Operation School Bell is a program of the Assistance League of Seattle that has been supporting students in Seattle Public Schools since 1990. The all-volunteer organization has historically focused on helping students and families who are most in need. Through their Operation School Bell program, the Assistance League of Seattle has partnered with the SPS Family Support Worker Program to provide thousands of elementary children new coats, school clothes, shoes, school supplies and gift cards for basic needs. In the fall of 2019, they served approximately 2,400 students.

Operation Schools Bell’s support has not wavered during the pandemic. Families can work directly with the Family Support Worker or Counselor in their school to get connected. What has sustained this partnership over time is a commitment to supporting students and families in our district, strong relationships, and a deep connection to the community. Operation School Bell and the Assistance League of Seattle demonstrate the power of coming together to do make sure every student has what they need to succeed. Visit their website to learn more

Throughout the 2020-21 school year, Middle College High School partnered with Totem Star Records to take a new approach to teaching and learning about U.S. History. Working alongside Social Studies teachers Shmuel Rubinstein and Soladoye Oyelowo, Totem Star used music as the medium to facilitate a discussion on how people have responded to and shaped historical events in the United States. Students had the opportunity to learn directly from Seattle music legends, including: Lady A, Clinton Fearon, and Steve Fisk. Mr. Rubinstein wrote that these type of engaging learning experiences increased student participation and motivated several students to explore their own personal journey through the world of music. One student wrote that “Learning history through the lens of music has helped me see connections that I would never have noticed. It gave new meaning to some of the events that shaped our country by understanding the role that music played. Learning about the people who played that music showed me a whole new side to the history, one that was vibrant and full of life, one in which we can still relate to.”

This partnership thrived because of a joint commitment to prioritizing students and elevating their voices. Totem Star supported students in creating their own music and offered students the opportunity to receive musical mentors to help them advance in their understanding of music. Visit Totem Star’s website to learn more!

WestSide Baby is committed to working with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to help support families who are experiencing barriers to basic needs for babies and children. WestSide Baby believes that the health of the entire family is strengthened when parents have access to the resources that help keep their children warm, dry, safe, and healthy.

WestSide Baby and SPS Family Support Services worked closely throughout the school year to provide baby essentials such as diapers, baby wipes, safety equipment, and other items that were delivered to four SPS school locations. including over 300,000 diapers! The SPS meal sites served as a low-barrier, community access point for families throughout the district to access diapers and WestSide Baby’s partnership was elemental in getting these resources to families. Visit their website to learn more!

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