On March 22nd, Fairfield City Schools and United Way of Central Alabama hosted a planning luncheon with community partners working to launch a Community Schools strategy within Fairfield in order to strengthen conditions for student learning and healthy development.
Beyond being strongholds of grade-level education, schools serve as community hubs, bringing together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities; and their importance cannot be overstated. More than 90 partners attended the meeting at Fairfield High Preparatory School and shared feedback on ways they could support priorities, such as college and career readiness, student mentoring, financial literacy, social support programs and medical services.
“We are fortunate to have many great partners already supporting Fairfield City Schools and our students. And we hope this Community Schools approach will help us to enhance and expand those partnerships, while also building new partnerships that can further support students, families and the entire Fairfield community,” said Dr. Regina Thompson, Superintendent of Fairfield City Schools.
Community partners also discussed broader topics during the planning discussion, such as building a multi-generational approach to learning, improving family engagement and fostering entrepreneurship among students, all of which are important components that play heavily in the long-term success of a holistic strategy. Schools are intended to meet the unique needs of the neighborhoods they serve by leveraging local partners across a variety of sectors to bring a variety of services, such as high-quality tutoring, healthcare services, mental health supports, workforce training and early-learning programs, into school buildings. These service benefit not only students, but the entire community.
“When we work together to support students, families and communities, we not only see academic outcomes improve, but we see entire communities thrive,” said Drew Langloh, President and CEO of United Way of Central Alabama. “At United Way, we are excited to work in partnership with Fairfield City Schools and community organizations to build a local model that meets the unique needs of Fairfield and builds on the incredible work that is already happening here.” According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Studies have found that well-implemented community schools — with integrated student supports, active family and community engagement, expanded and enriched learning time and collaborative leadership practices — can lead to improved student and school outcomes.”* Because of this, United Way of Central Alabama is excited to work with partners to implement and support a holistic strategy for community schools in Fairfield.
In addition to Fairfield City Schools and United Way of Central Alabama, other organizations involved in the planning discussions included the City of Fairfield, Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama Department of Commerce, Lawson State Community College, Cahaba Medical Care, Fairfield Housing Authority, Alabama Power, Girls Inc. of Central Alabama, American Heart Association, Childcare Resources, Better Basics, STREAM Innovations, Urban Hope Development, Addiction Prevention Coalition, Bailey Education Group, Fairfield Industrial High School Alumni Association, UAB Nurse Family Partnership, Central Six Alabama Works, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham, GEAR UP Jefferson County, The Good Guys Mentoring of America, AlaQuest Collaborative for Education and others.
Partners will continue to work together to develop a plan that is in place to launch in the Fall of 2023.
“I have always said that it takes a village to raise a child,” said Dr. Thompson, “and I heard partners saying that today, which is confirmation that we are all working together to put our children on a path to success.”
*Source: U.S. Department of Education Announces $63 Million to Expand Community Schools and Increase Social, Emotional, Mental Health, and Academic Support for Students, Educators, and Families | U.S. Department of Education
About United Way of Central Alabama: United Way of Central Alabama serves Jefferson, Shelby, Walker, Blount, St. Clair and Chilton counties by providing solutions for the most critical needs in the community. Through our partner agencies and community initiatives, we improve lives and community conditions by building and mobilizing resources. United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. For more information, visit www.uwca.org.