How Will You Find a Partner to Meet Your Identified Need?
What Types of Partnerships Exist?Partnerships fall into one or more of the following categories: Volunteers, Donors, Sponsors, or Service Providers. See the chart below for definitions and examples.
Type of Partnership
How the Partner Supports the School
Giving time to support programs, projects, activities, or tasks at schools without compensation
A retiree who serves as a teacher’s aide one day a week
Contributing gifts to schools without expectation of something in return. Three types of donations:
- Money (e.g. cash, checks, money orders, gift cards)
- Donated items (e.g. tangible goods, both new and used)
- In-kind/"pro bono" services (e.g. professional services donated by vendor)
A university donates its old computers to a school when it orders a newer model
A law office offers free legal consultations to parents at a family night
Supporting a school’s event, activity, team, and/or club through monetary or service donations, with acknowledgement or marketing opportunities as compensation.
A local business who provides the uniforms for an intramural team, in exchange for advertising opportunities
Administering a program for students or schools, often at a reduced price or for free because of external funding opportunities.
A non-profit organization that runs a tutoring program which gets funding from a local foundationBelow is a list of common partnership activities, by category:*Note: Items with an asterisk (*) must meet City Schools' Standards of Acceptance (Information Technology).
Partner and Resource Guide
Did you know that City Schools has already compiled a list of partners throughout the district for you to reference? The Partner and Resource Guide can be found here.
Use this guide as a starting point for your search for partners, as it lists the schools they are working with, the services they provide, and their contact information. Remember that people and contact information change frequently. If you see a partner who might be able to meet your school’s needs, take a look at their website for the most up to date information.
Recommendations from Other School Leaders
Baltimore City Public Schools is a tight-knit community, so many of your colleagues and contacts probably know each other too. Utilize your network to learn more about partners that have been successful in other schools. Talk to fellow school leaders, staff, and community school coordinators at other schools to learn more about who they would recommend. Even your contacts outside of the district may know of great organizations or individuals looking to make a difference in schools.
Using Your School Website
The “Partner, Volunteer, Donate” section of individual school websites allows schools to post volunteer service opportunities, requests for donated items or financial contributions, and their need for partnerships. School communities and potential partners can also use school websites to stay informed about school priorities and needs and how they can offer their support.For instructions on how to update this section of your school website, click the link below.
- Keep the requests current
- Communicate requests in a simple, clear, and engaging way
- Promote the link widely (by printing in school materials, announcing at meetings and sharing with partners)
- Celebrate partners by saying thank you (or link to wherever they are showcased)
To attract partners to your school, make sure your “ask” is: (1) connected to a need or priority (2) actionable, and (3) sensitive to what prospective partners need and are willing to do.
Connect requests for help to your school’s needs and priorities
When talking to potential partner organizations, make sure that opportunities to collaborate are aligned with your school mission, Performance Plan, and annual goals. Just like you have goals to achieve, so do they – helping your school achieve its goals makes the partnership mutually beneficial for other organizations and individuals.
Remember: You do not have to limit your requests to student needs. Many partners offer services such as professional development for staff, professional supports like accounting or front office volunteers, or general advocacy for your school’s needs.
You can use the chart below to think through your requests for help/support.
Activity/Type of Program
Who will be the recipient (e.g. students, parents, staff, teachers)?
What does the school hope to accomplish?
What will the partner will do (e.g. two volunteers will serve as reading tutors twice a week)?
Is the opportunity based on the partner’s interests?
Are the partner and school in agreement on the terms?
Create actionable opportunities
Once your school has outlined meaningful focus areas, you still must determine how you specifically want partners to help you. What do you want potential supporters to commit to? Always clarify how much of what you need and by when.
Instead of saying, for example, that your school wants to offer more field trips, itemize the ways that partners can help, such as paying for a bus rental (approximate cost is $300) or donating bag lunches (for 50 students). This specificity will make it easier for partners to know what they are committing to and will help structure negotiating conversations.
Be sensitive to partners’ needs, interests, and focus areas
Remember that partners should get something out of the relationship too! Partnering with City Schools offers external supporters the opportunity to:
- Fulfill their personal commitment to social responsibility and investment in the community
- Develop and utilize their skills through meaningful service experiences
- Improve their reputation or standing in the community
- Influence their own workforce development pipeline
Be open to what potential partners offer, suggest, and amend, as they may bring a different perspective or new idea to the conversation that benefits everyone involved.
Spread the word about your school and the opportunities for partnership that you have available! Community members and organizations will be more likely to approach you and offer their services if they know what great things are happening at your school and that it is a welcoming place to be.
- Share the link for your school website on official documents and communications to encourage people to visit your Partner, Volunteer, Donate page.
- Use social media and technology tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to highlight your school successes and needs.
- Ask your school’s existing network of stakeholders, supporters, and friends to share your school’s successes and needs with their own networks.
- Connect with local businesses, churches, library, or your legislative representatives to discuss common needs and opportunities for collaboration.
- Create a campaign at certain times of the year to encourage the school community and larger community to get involved and give back. You could hold a drive for school supplies in August or a toy drive before the December holidays.
The Partnerships Toolkit is a product of the Engagement Office. If you have additional questions, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (443) 984-2000. You will reach the City Schools Call Center, so ask to be connected to the Engagement Office.