Ready for Success: My Brother’s Keeper and the 2015 Back-to-School Bus Tour

Image 1 - Bus Tour Map

During the U.S. Department of Education’s Back-to-School Bus Tour, the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) Roundtable Discussions in three cities:  Louisville, KY; Indianapolis, IN; and Pittsburgh, PA.  As one of the MBK staff leads in our office, I had the opportunity to facilitate the Louisville discussion with youth from some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods. The roundtable was held at Minor Daniels Academy, a combined restorative pathways middle and high school in the Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) System. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens also participated in the conversation.

During the roundtable discussion, students talked about their aspirations, the daily challenges they face, and the structural and systemic obstacles they perceive as part of their environment. What I found to be peculiar about the discussion was how many of the youth believe that success is best achieved by helping themselves. Throughout their lives, the students felt disconnected from the Louisville community as a whole. They did not know that there were members of the community who were actually interested in providing them assistance. When one youth explained that “shoe game” – how an individual’s worth is defined based upon the substance of his or her appearance – serves as one of the most prevalent problems in their communities, another concluded that as poor African Americans, students could not solve these problems alone.  However, knowing that there were other youth in their communities who had more resources, better educational opportunities, and greater communal support, they wondered if the community had any desire to help them in addressing their own needs.

Despite these expressed challenges, the students chose to “accept finite disappointment while still clinging to hope.” When asked if they had the opportunity to speak to President Obama about improving their schools and communities, the students responded with dignity. One student specified she would ask the President to alter the minimum working age while another stated he would like the President to create programs to provide youth a sense of purpose and eliminate crime within their communities.

The voices of the students underline why MBK is vital to communities. During the conversation, these students learned that their community was listening and preparing to support them as they moved toward their life goals. The MBK initiative helps youth understand that “success is not measured by your stumbles, but by your many strides.  If you can conceive it in your minds and believe it in your hearts, you can achieve it with your hands.”

Following my experiences at the roundtable discussion, I feel confident that the work Louisville is accomplishing will answer the needs of its students and continue to epitomize what MBK is all about – helping to ensure high student achievement and success for all youth, despite their circumstances.   If we continue to incorporate the voices of our youth into the efforts of the 200 communities committed to improving the life outcomes of youth through MBK, I have no doubt it will make our nation more competitive globally and a more equitable place to live.

“…We were founded on the idea everybody should have an equal opportunity to succeed. No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, you can make it. That’s an essential promise of America. Where you start should not determine where you end up.” – President Barack Obama

Fifth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge

This blog is cross posted from the White House here

Picture of attendees in Howard University Chapel

One of President Obama’s first acts was to establish the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Acting on a recommendation by this council,President Obama established the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge to build bridges of understanding across our differences, especially among rising leaders, and to serve our neighbors. Interfaith service involves people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds tackling community challenges together – for example, Protestants and Catholics, Hindus and Jews, and Muslims and non-believers building a Habitat for Humanity house together. Interfaith service impacts specific community challenges, while building social capital and civility.

We were pleased to kick off the Fifth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge last week at Howard University. We have been delighted to watch as the President’s Challenge has resonated with leaders in higher education. In some schools, programs were already under way and gathered momentum because of the challenge. Other schools launched new interfaith service programs in response to the challenge. Actions like these have resulted in opportunities for millions of students and the betterment of countless communities.

The challenge has not been restricted to one model of higher education. Instead it has flourished in a variety of settings including large research universities, four-year colleges, tribal colleges, career colleges, and historically black universities. Each institution provides a unique perspective on what it means to have an interfaith commitment to campus.

Prompted by American schools’ embrace of the Campus Challenge, this year we proposed to think about ways in which institutions of higher learning around the world might benefit from sharing ideas, experiences, and practices of interfaith community service. In early 2015, meetings were held in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City with Campus Challenge participants to discuss possibilities for global engagement. One result of these discussions is that educators and students from around the world were invited to attend the Fifth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Gathering at Howard University on September 9 -11, 2015. The response was overwhelming, with people coming from 24 countries.

We’d like to thank those who worked so hard to make this initiative successful, including the Department of Education and its Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the U.S. Agency for International Development and its Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives, the Department of State and its Office of Religion and Global Affairs and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Corporation for National & Community Service. We’d also like to thank the Howard University community for their generosity and hospitality in hosting the gathering this year.

On behalf of the President, I congratulate all of the schools and leaders who participate in the Challenge. We look forward with anticipation as this initiative continues to expand.

By Melissa Rogers, Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

U.S. Department of Education Proposes Regulations Extending Religious Liberty Protections to Participants in Federally-funded Programs

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Education (Department) today announced proposed regulations that would provide beneficiaries of programs supported by Department grants with new religious liberty protections while continuing to ensure equal protection of the laws for faith-based and community organizations that receive Federal financial assistance and provide services under Department programs. The proposed regulations formally implement Executive Order 13559, which requires agencies that administer or award Federal financial assistance for social service programs to implement protections for the beneficiaries and prospective beneficiaries of those programs to ensure that they are protected from discrimination on the basis of their own religion or religious beliefs, or based on a refusal to attend or participate in a religious activity.

The proposed regulations set forth changes to current regulations, including:

  • Clarifying that decisions about the awarding of grants and subgrants must be based on merit and must be free from political interference or even the appearance of such interference.
  • Replacing the term “inherently religious activities” in the existing regulations with the term “explicitly religious activities” in order to more closely align with current constitutional standards and clarify the scope of activities covered by the regulations.
  • Defining the terms “direct Federal financial assistance” and “indirect Federal financial assistance” so that faith-based organizations understand that certain religious liberty protections are triggered under the updated regulations only if a faith-based organization receives direct Federal financial assistance.
  • Requiring that, if a beneficiary or prospective beneficiary of a Department program supported by direct Federal financial assistance objects to the religious character of an organization that provides services under the program, the organization must make reasonable efforts to refer that individual to an alternative provider.
  • Requiring that faith-based organizations supported with direct Federal financial assistance from the Department provide beneficiaries with a written notice informing them of a variety of religious liberty protections, including steps that must be taken to refer the beneficiary to an alternative provider, if the beneficiary requests such a provider.

The public will have 60 days from the date the proposal is published in the Federal Register to provide comments on the proposed rule. For additional information and to view the proposed regulations, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.

NPRM Fact sheet

Engaging Families and Communities to Bridge the Word Gap

This post originally appeared on the Too Small to Fail blog and cross-posted from the ED.GOV blog.

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Children begin learning from the moment they are born. By seeing, hearing, and exploring the world around them, particularly through close loving relationships with their families and caregivers, babies’ brains rapidly develop. The more enriching experiences they have with those who love and care for them, the more they grow – especially when words are involved. Research has found that providing infants, toddlers, and young children with consistent, language-rich experiences –talking, reading, and singing – greatly benefits their brain development and school readiness.

However, many families lack access to the types of information and resources that can help them make everyday moments into learning opportunities that are rich in language. Researchers have found that some children are exposed to more language-rich environments than others during the early years, which can result in a gap in the quantity and quality of words that children hear and learn. The richness of children’s language environment can impact school success and outcomes later in life. .

That’s why, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, in partnership with Too Small to Fail, are providing these critical resources to families, caregivers, and early learning providers. Last week, we proudly released  “Talk, Read, Sing Together Every Day”, a free suite of resources that can help enrich children’s early language experiences by providing tips for talking, reading, and singing with young children every day beginning from birth and extending into the early years.

This toolkit is a result of a commitment made at the 2014 White House convening on “bridging the word gap.” The resources include:

Talking matters, and, no matter what language you speak – the more words the better. To make these resources as accessible and inclusive as possible, all tip sheets are available in English and Spanish, and can be downloaded for free.

Talking, reading, and singing are teaching. But more than that, talking, reading, and singing are simple gateways to opportunities for children and their families. They are brain building activities that set the foundation for school readiness and school success. These everyday activities are ones that all families and communities can engage in to ensure that their young children have the best start in life.

When families, caregivers and teachers partner to promote children’s early education, children win.

To read more about these resources, or to download them visit the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services websites or Too Small to Fail.

Libby Doggett is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education, Linda Smith is Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Kara Dukakis is the Director of Too Small to Fail.

Together for Tomorrow: Connecting the Dots

We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be – this is the interrelated structure of reality. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Staff with panelists

A primary key to strong partnerships is examining and truly understanding what it is like to function in a role different than one’s own where expectations and priorities may differ.  Recently, at the Institution for Educational Learning’s (IEL’s) National Family and Community Engagement Conference, The U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (ED CBNFP) created the space for such an opportunity where CBOs, families, and educators gathered to understand how to 1) become more sympathetic and empathetic regarding another’s needs, requests, and concerns in the educational sphere and 2) foster an atmosphere more conducive to initiating and maintaining long lasting relationships and partnerships that benefit students and promote high academic success.

The workshop entitled, Together for Tomorrow:  Connecting the Dots, included education advocates and employees from various backgrounds who demonstrated how educational improvement is everyone’s responsibility – including students, principals, teachers, school staff, families, CBOs and volunteers.  The workshop provided its attendees a) specific examples of where communities and schools have connected the dots and b) general guidelines for successful partnerships.

Dr. William Truesdale, Principal of Taylor Elementary School in Chicago, spoke about his role in integrating families into the school to participate in advancing the school’s mission.  He mentioned how he framed the engagement around six fundamental human needs as expressed by Steven Covey and Tony Robbins. Ms. Jamillah Rashad, Elev8 Director who serves as a community liaison and parent/student advocate for the Marquette School of Excellence, voiced how the power of one-on-one relationships can strengthen efforts in raising school achievement.  As an example of how these relationships work, Ms. Rashad directed the audience to engage in a brief conversation with someone with whom they were not familiar as a demonstration of the role and importance relationship building plays in helping schools and students thrive.  Becoming a Man (BAM), an organization which currently serves over 2,400 young males in 20 schools in the Chicago area in an effort to “develop social-cognitive skills strongly correlated with reductions in violent and anti-social behavior” in “at-risk male students,” also presented in the workshop.  Led by Youth Counselor, Zachary Strother, who expounded upon how BAM’s six core values positively impacted its students, four BAM youth expressed how the organization has helped to improve their success in the classroom and changed their lives for the better.

One of the most important takeaways from the workshop was that parents and extended family members can serve as bridge builders between schools and community groups.  They often serve as leaders or members of CBO’s that can partner with schools.  The session allowed both its participants and audience members to leave with a greater confidence in their own ability to encourage and support school, family, and CBO partnerships that support student success.

 

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Eddie Martin is a special assistant in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Cradle to Career Initiative

As Mayor of Louisville, I’ve learned that city government plays a major role in making sure that all of our city’s young people have a chance to succeed. That is why I launched the Cradle to Career Initiative that recognizes that whether you are a baby in a crib or an adult getting a new certification, you must constantly be learning if you are to succeed. Cradle to Career has four pillars: Early Childhood, K-12, 55K, Louisville’s postsecondary completion goal, and 21st Century Workforce. Our friends at the Metro United Way convene the Kindergarten Readiness Pillar in which more than 40 individuals and organizations meet regularly to discuss strategies to get our children kindergarten ready. In the past few years we have increased kindergarten readiness from 35% to 51% and we are committed to attaining our goal of 77% by 2020.

Although Louisville has incredibly exciting momentum, there are some challenges that remain.  We still have families that struggle and kids that are behind the first day they show up for kindergarten.  Too many kids – almost 50 percent in Louisville – arrive for their first day of kindergarten already behind. But, over and over again I hear the same thing: The number one way we can dramatically improve our youngest citizens’ life potential is with quality early childhood education.

You want to create more high tech jobs of the future and fill those jobs?  Get more kids into early childhood programs.

You want to lower our crime rate and keep Louisville a safe place for our families and businesses?  Make sure those early childhood programs are quality programs.

You want fewer kids dropping out and more enrolling and completing a postsecondary degree?  Give parents the tools they need to help their kids on Day One.

To continue dialogue around early childhood development and kindergarten readiness in Louisville, local leaders, educators, parents and community members were invited to participate in one of 15 community conversations hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National League of Cities. These conversations included early childhood education, afterschool learning and postsecondary success, and explored ways that cities are working to close the achievement gap and increase student outcomes. Louisville’s community conversation was the last one in this series of events held over the last year.

Dr. Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Tonja Rucker from the National League of Cities, and the Reverend Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education all participated in this important community dialogue. We were also thrilled to have U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan join us to provide closing remarks on the importance of partnership between the federal government and local communities in improving educational opportunities and outcomes across the pipeline, from Pre-K to college.

This community conversation was a terrific stimulus for the work we have been doing around kindergarten readiness and has re-energized us with fresh ideas on how to continue tackling early childhood education and development challenges for our youngest citizens and their families. I am grateful the USDE chose Louisville to have this important conversation, and excited for the work to come.

This post is a guest blog entry by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. More on the Cradle to Career Initiative can be found online on their website

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Greg Fischer was elected Louisville's 50th mayor in 2010 -- and was sworn in for a second four-year term on January 5, 2015.

Meet Pete the Cat!

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Students talk and sing with Pete the Cat as he shared a fun story about his day.

I am not sure there would have been such a crowded room if the invitation had read “Come learn the steps for the dialogic reading process.” But thanks to the teachers who maintain close working relationships with the children and their families, 84 percent of the 74 families were present to participate in a fun-filled evening with “Pete the Cat.”

This night in Louisville, Kentucky was a celebration of some of the work being done by the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) with the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) as a key partner. They are working together to improve kindergarten readiness through the use of 1) High impact family engagement; 2) Specific intergenerational literacy strategies in the home and community tied to classroom strategies.

The lunchroom was brimming with excitement as the children and families shared in a light evening meal at the McFerran Early Childhood Center. Something really special was about to happen and the children could hardly wait to go upstairs for a time of reading and sharing.

Mrs. Starr Logsdon modeled a dramatic reading of Pete the Cat including a guest guitarist to play as the children (and the grownups) sang along as Pete was rocking in his school shoes!

Each child knew the color of the station where he/she could take the family to play after the reading was finished.

As the parents followed, the children were tracing the outline of shoes, role playing the story they just heard, practicing sequence, and talking and singing with Pete the Cat as he shared a fun story about his day from the time he strolled to the bus until the school day ended. The children jumped with joy when they

Students traced the outline of shoes as inspired by the book Pete the Cat.

Students traced the outline of shoes as inspired by the book Pete the Cat.

received their own copy of the book to take home.  Parents received the PEER Sequence worksheet to help them make reading to their children more effective. In addition to PEER, CROWD questions were also asked (link below).

  • P-Prompt (ask a question)
  • E – Evaluate (think about what the child said)
  • E – Expand (add to the child’s response)
  • R – Repeat (ask the child to repeat)

This Family Learning Event at the McFerran Early Childhood Center represents an example of NCFL-trained JCPS teachers utilizing select literacy strategies to build parent capacity to engage in joint learning with their children based on NCFL’s model. The extension of classroom strategies in to the home and community is the crux of this concerted effort to improve kindergarten readiness in one urban school district in America.

This event was attended by Dr. Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Learning, and Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Education

Resource: Prompts for Dialogic Reading Process
CROWD poster & Sequence 2-sided

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Brenda Girton-Mitchell is Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.

Well Deserved Recognition: Presidential Award winner CSU, Dominguez Hills

I was one of the people who reviewed applications for the Presidential Awards as part of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. I remember that California State University, Dominguez Hills had a strong application. So, when they were chosen in the General Community Service category I was pleased. But I had no idea how deserving they were until I joined John Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Corporation for National and Community Service, to present the Presidential Award at their Community Engagement Symposium.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll was established by President George W. Bush in 2006 to honor colleges and universities that have exemplary community service programs for their students. Each year institutions of higher education submit applications that highlight their programs to solve community problems and set students on paths of life-long commitment to civil engagement. Schools apply in the categories of General Community Service, Interfaith Community Service, Economic Opportunity, and Education. In each category schools are recognized as members of the Honor Roll, members with distinction, finalists, and one school in each category is given the Presidential Award.

Community engagement is the reason that CSU Dominguez Hills exists. They were founded in 1965 after the Watts Rebellion which was triggered by a white police officer pulling over a young African-American, Marquette Frye. A crowd gathered to protest. This was followed by six days of rioting that brought attention to issues of urban poverty. One response to the rebellion was that Governor Pat Brown immediately moved to establish a college that would serve the needs of people living in South Los Angeles including Watts. The college was founded to engage the community.

At a Community Engagement Symposium organized to celebrate all the community engagement and the honor of the Presidential Award, 41 community engagement projects were highlighted with booths, awards, and presentations. Dr. Vivian Price put community service into context with a slideshow and presentation that showed the potential of service learning. President Willie Hagan, Provost Ellen Junn, and Vice Provost Mitch Maki all showed their support for the students and staff. But the real energy behind community engagement at CSU Dominguez Hills is Cheryl McKnight, director of the Center for Service Learning.

McKnight clearly has support from faculty who integrate service learning into their courses. For example, in Anthropology 330, a Service-Learning and Community Engagement course, students not only learned about North American Indians, but they also helped organize a Pow Wow. She has support from President Hagan and the administrative staff. Students provide leadership and organize community engagement. An example is three design students who worked with a non-profit to support a project that responds to the needs of pets that are caught up in a domestic violence situation.

While it takes the commitment of a whole school to develop a high quality community engagement program like CSU Dominguez Hills has, clearly one key is to have a person like McKnight who pulls everything together and keeps the community service agenda on everyone’s mind.

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Ken is a Senior Adviser in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Fowler Head Start: Beneficiaries of the Pre-School Development Grant and a Place where Parents Can Dream Too!

Parents speak about their future dreams and plans, and showcase these aspirations in artistic portfolios

Parents speak about their future dreams and plans, and showcase these aspirations in artistic portfolios

My dream is to speak English.  I also want to finish school, and this photo shows how I plan to look and dress in the job I want to have.  My hopes are to one-day gain a job as secretary or in an administrative position.-Fowler Head Start Parent  (Translated into English)

Can you imagine a school where parents are encouraged to dream – something that we, as adults, seldom do now that we have grown up?  The Fowler Head Start Program inspires such action as it intentionally facilitates opportunities for parents to envision and express artistically a world where all of their hopes and dreams come true.

At Fowler Head Start, the principal and his staff have discovered that investing in the lives of a child’s parent/caregiver drastically improves the student’s educational possibilities.  As a part of the Fowler family, not only do parents feel more inclined to participate in activities hosted by the school, but they also contribute to the planning and organizing of the events.  This comes directly as a result of the school’s constant care for and engagement of the whole family.

In recognition to its commitment to its students and families, Fowler is a beneficiary of the U.S. Department of Education/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Pre-School Development Grant – a grant created to “support State and local efforts to build, develop, and expand High-Quality Preschool Programs so that more children from low- and moderate-income families enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life.” Fowler understands that in order for a child to have the chance to succeed in life, the school must also invest in the whole family’s needs.

During a visit to Phoenix, U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Staff (CFBNP) were privileged to observe how the incorporation of family into the classroom space greatly contributes to a student’s learning.  Three, four, and five year-olds graced CFBNP staff with a student performance entitled, “Trip to Shanghai.”  Students danced, sang, and told tales of Ancient Eastern folklore. The artwork, planning, and preparation for the event were guided by both the teachers and the families of the students.

Welcome to Shanghai!  Decorations created by parents and teachers for the students’ performance

Welcome to Shanghai! Decorations created by parents and teachers for the students’ performance.

Fowler staff expressed how the relationship between teachers, the principal, and the families helped spark the academic interests and imagination of its students.  The creativity was evident when Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell was led on a tour and discovered beautiful artwork (including a fabulous portrait of herself crafted by a three-year-old!) created by students, including pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Fowler has gathered data to show that students who attend high quality early learning programs such as Fowler, excel in reading and math at a higher rate than their counterparts of the same age who do/did not attend Head Start.[1]

The staff and teachers at Fowler have earned the trust of the families they serve.  This trust stimulates a parental desire to become more involved in their children’s academic pursuits and helps children stay excited about learning.

[1] FESD #45 AIMS Reading: % Passing Comparison – Performance of Head Start vs. Non-Head Start Students

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Eddie Martin is Special Assistant in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Wow! A 95.5% Graduation Rate!

CFBNP Director, Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Principal Cabrero, and Arizona Department of Education Staff celebrate the achievements of Franklin Police and Fire, including being named as U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School

CFBNP Director, Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Principal Cabrero, and Arizona Department of Education Staff celebrate the achievements of Franklin Police and Fire, including being named as U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School.

Wow, a 95.5% graduation rate at Franklin Police and Fire High School! Congratulations! The opportunities available to students demonstrate why Franklin Police and Fire in Phoenix, AZ was honored as a Blue Ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education.  For the school, excellence in education is possible for all of its students through the care and collaboration of its community partners, families, and school members dedicated to ensuring their students’ success. In the present moment where community ties are stressed and distrust may continue to grow between citizens and those who have sworn to protect and serve them, Franklin Police and Fire is committed to changing such a paradigm and engaging in promising practices that continue to drive student achievement.

In four years as Principal at Franklin Police and Fire High School, Lorenzo Cabrera and his staff have accomplished amazing feats in this area. On a recent Together for Tomorrow site visit to the school, U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Staff saw up close the benefits of how the school and its partners from the police force and fire department are working together to raise student achievement.

Students work with local fire and police departments where they learn skills such as CPR, First Aid, and team building. The students’ physical and emotional resilience are tested as they endure rigorous training and are confronted with difficult scenarios that firefighters and policemen often encounter daily. These scenarios are also reviewed in the classroom, where students have the opportunity to analyze and discuss how to maintain proper procedure while under duress. Moreover, students’ ethical insights and implicit biases are often challenged as they critically engage current controversies and events that have received national attention involving police forces across the U.S. Above all else, students are taught the value of integrity in their relationships with these partners and education within the school.  Because integrity is so important to the school, students are the required to recite its definition daily – “doing what is right even when no one is looking.”

In addition to its partnerships with the fire and police departments, Franklin Police and Fire High School promotes high student achievement though academic rigor, small class sizes, and heavy emphasis on college access. Students can receive college credit, earn various certifications, and even secure summer internships and employment, such as wildlife job opportunities offered through the Bureau of Land Management.

The partnership between Arizona State University’s (ASU) America Dream Academy (ADA) and Franklin Police and Fire helps families improve the educational outcomes of their youth. In ADA, the parents/caregivers of “at-risk” K-12 students partake in a nine-week program to “gain the knowledge and skills necessary to improve the educational development of their children, including methods to improve parent/child relationships; how to reduce dropout rates; and ensure high school graduation.” Such an initiative allows families to “take charge of their children’s education” as it helps to “build stronger families and communities.“

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Eddie Martin is Special Assistant in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.