Seattle Public Schools


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.

2022-23 Partnership Recognitions

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 2022-23 school year, nominated by members of our community.

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The Creative Dance Center (CDC) is an organization that nurtures self-expression, creativity, and learning through meaningful dance experiences. The CDC is a part of the Creative Advantage Community Arts Partner Roster and began partnering with James Baldwin Elementary for the 22-23 school year. 

James Baldwin staff shared, “CDC has highly skilled teaching artists who engaged with school staff to collaborate on curriculum. Every staff member and student received dance and movement instruction. The program ended with an all-school assembly with CDC’s youth dance company, Kaleidoscope. This partnership provided students access to enriching dance instruction that inspired students to consider pathways in the creative arts.”

The arts team at James Baldwin, led by Yamila Mulder, was integral to this partnership, creating opportunities for James Baldwin staff to learn about brain-compatible dance education. One of the CDC teaching artists shared, “It was a profound joy to walk down the halls of James Baldwin Elementary every Friday morning and hear students exclaim, ‘The dance teachers are here! We have dance today!’”. Speaking about the value of this partnership, CDC teaching artist also shared that “Week after week I saw creative problem solving, compassionate collaboration, and thoughtful individual expression.”

To learn more about the dynamic work of the Creative Dance Center please visit their website or view the Creative Advantage Roster to learn more about partnership with the CDC.

This recognition is honoring the contribution of school leadership in providing a vision for strong community partnership. Public Health-Seattle & King County is temporarily serving as a provider at Denny Middle School school-based health center through Fall 2023. Public Health-Seattle & King County (PHSKC) manages the funding for the clinic and is responsible for the process of selecting a new provider partner. Denny’s Principal, Jeff Lam, engaged with PHSKC staff during the entire process, from developing the RFP criteria, to participating in the selection of a new provider and assuring a smooth transition from one provider to the next.  With critical input and engagement, Principal Lam was also able to support participation of Denny community members including other CBO partners, parents and students, and the school nurse.  All were able to be sure that the needs and voice of the Denny community were heard in the process.

Full engagement from members of the Denny community helped to ensure that the selection of a new school-based health center provider was centered around the needs of Denny students furthest from educational justice.  We know that Principal Lam’s engagement and work in this partnership will have lasting impact on the Denny community.

The Homage facilitated AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent program has been a partner with Seattle Public Schools for 5 years, placing volunteers inside of SPS classrooms to support students

Gaye Harris has been serving as an AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteer at Interagency UDYC for many years. She is a consistent support for both the youth and staff. Not only is she there as a mentor, but she is also a moral support. Gaye regularly facilitates donations from her church for non-perishable food items and self-care toiletries to provide holistic supports and meet student needs. She knows that everything in a child’s life is connected and does her best to be sure the students she serves have their needs met.

Sam Gilliam is another AmeriCorps Senior Foster Grandparent volunteer, serving at Thurgood Marshall Elementary. One teacher who Sam serves with shared, “Mr. G supports me by reiterating the academic goal to students and by introducing a different strategy to the students to complete math games or understand the school curriculum differently.” Said another staff member, “Every year he has been a joy to work with and he has built accountable and empathetic learners that love to work with him.”

We are grateful for the service of both Sam and Gaye! To learn more about the dynamic work of AmeriCorps Senior Foster Grandparent program, please visit the Homage, Americorps Senior Foster Grandparent Program website or contact them at 425-514-3188 for information about becoming a volunteer.

Thurgood Marshall Elementary began their partnership with the Holgate Street Church during the 2019-20 school year at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Thurgood Marshall families needed support with a safe place for students to participate in virtual learning while they continued working. Pastor Hurd opened his church, took referrals from school staff, and shared donations of food and school supplies. This partnership kept students learning who otherwise may not have had access to an adult to support with schoolwork while families balanced other responsibilities.

Since school reopened, Pastor Hurd has started an afterschool program to provide tutoring, mentoring and meals to students and their families. Communication between school and Pastor Hurd ensures that students are getting support on the appropriate academic and social emotional skills. This partnership is supporting student growth and working to meet community needs.

This nomination is for the partnership between IslandWood and Rising Star Elementary focused on co-designing outdoor learning experiences centered on the surrounding greenspace. Between 2021 and 2023, IslandWood has provided ongoing STEM training, curricular support across grades and mini environmental education action project support in the greenspace to Rising Star Elementary staff members.

This year’s partnership activities will culminate in a science showcase where teachers from all grades will share student work originating from ongoing place-based science projects in the greenspace and teacher reflections about their experience finding new ways to teach outside and using the schoolyard as learning ground. This event will be open to the community and will include student-led tours of the greenspace and showcase of the photography from Nature Club student.

This partnership would not be possible without the vision of school leadership to foster community-centered environmental stewardship. By exposing students to an ongoing connection to their natural surroundings, the goal is also to provide students with greater STEM career access, as well as foster sustainable change in the community through science learning and student-led environmental action.  

Learn more about IslandWood on their website!         

The Nurturing Knowledge School began partnering with Greenwood Elementary in 1997 and has consistently provided a safe and nurturing environment for students. This partnership was nominated because of the dedication of staff and the critical supports they provide for students, especially students furthest from educational justice. Nurturing Knowledge expertly partners to support students and families through life’s challenges and transitions with grace and love Families have consistently expressed their appreciation for reliable care, dedicated teachers, open communication, and unique learning opportunities for students. They strive to be a school “committed to innovative education, a nurturing approach, a love of knowledge, and the idea that all things are possible.”

Learn more about Nurturing Knowledge

Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO) is a non-profit dedicated to nurturing students’ curiosity, critical thinking, and desire to explore big questions. This partnership was nominated this year by staff at Thurgood Marshall Elementary, who have been a partner since 2014.

PLATO brings philosophy to students and staff through the development of “communities of philosophical inquiry,” in which teachers and students inquire together. Thurgood Marshall staff shared that this commitment to furthering the learning of teachers alongside students has helped the partnership to thrive. Philosophy lessons are also integrated to support class curriculum and discussion. Students generate their own questions about issues relevant to their lives and learn to give good reasons for their beliefs. Every student’s voice is valued, and all views are taken seriously. Staff at Thurgood Marshall shared that a highlight is hearing students share their ideas and seeing the level of engagement they have in the program.

Learn about doing philosophy with young people. Additionally, more information about the Seattle Philosophers in Residence Program, including quotes from SPS students and teachers.

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has partnered with multiple schools to provide a variety of arts programming, and was nominated this year by Leschi Elementary staff. SAM coordinated a field trip for Leschi students and provided additional tickets for students to attend with their families. A Leschi staff member wrote, “Many of our families furthest from educational justice do not get the opportunity to attend due to the costs.  This also allows our families to go at a time that is convenient to them”. SAM staff also visited and presented to the Rising Sons mentorship group for African American boys. A Rising Son’s staff member shared that “SAM not only came to our school and engaged our students in Art but provided a project they could be proud of and take home.”

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has partnered with multiple schools to provide a variety of arts programming, and was nominated this year by Leschi Elementary staff. SAM coordinated a field trip for Leschi students and provided additional tickets for students to attend with their families. A Leschi staff member wrote, “Many of our families furthest from educational justice do not get the opportunity to attend due to the costs.  This also allows our families to go at a time that is convenient to them”. SAM staff also visited and presented to the Rising Sons mentorship group for African American boys. A Rising Son’s staff member shared that “SAM not only came to our school and engaged our students in Art but provided a project they could be proud of and take home.”

The partnership of Leschi staff was essential to the success of this partnership, in particular Mr. John Gladney who leads the Rising Sons group. SAM staff shared that Mr. Gladney “so clearly strives to create a safe and community-oriented environment for his students to thrive and uplift one another.” The Partnerships department is grateful for community partnership-oriented staff members like Mr. Gladney!

Visit the SAM website to learn more about their programs and see upcoming SAM offerings on our calendar

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is a long-standing partner of Seattle Public Schools that provides licensed after school childcares, community learning centers and other out of school time programs. SPR was nominated this school year for their work both at James Baldwin Elementary as well as at the Meadowbrook Teen Center.

At James Baldwin Elementary, SPR provides academic and enrichment programs after school for students. This vibrant and comprehensive program has everything from academic supports in math and reading, to cooking, carpentry, robotics, dance, and more! This year they even offered ice skating with the Kraken for students! SPR targets our students in need of support in Math and Reading, and the impact has been immense.

At the Meadowbrook Teen Center, SPR partners with staff from neighboring to provide a wide range of student supports. SPR staff are highly engaged members of the school community, providing after school mentorship groups, academic supports, in-school supports, support with employment opportunities and so much more. Said one SPS staff member, “They are a true “third place” beyond school and home life where teens can develop community in healthy and positive ways.”  

Seattle and King County Programs

To get an idea of the many programs and services available in Seattle and King County, please visit:

Email List for Partners

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