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School Success Partnership


Any attempt to help young people succeed in life is best accomplished when parents, teachers, and community agencies collaborate. The School Success Partnership in northeast Michigan has proven that collaboration really works, as measured by better grades, attendance, and behavior.
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable? 
School Success Partnership of Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency, Inc. (NEMCSA) Director Dorothy Pintar: The most innovative part is it began as a grassroots collaborative of community agencies that saw a need and wanted the need met. All community department heads came together, all stuck together for a year and a half and found out that the problems with kids related to school failure.

Also, we still do home visits, not many programs do. Some parents may be wary of school officials and other helping agencies. School Success helps bridge that gap. You have to have many different agencies buy into it: courts, schools, etc. That takes pressure off one agency to come up with funding. What’s remarkable about it is it’s not a line item on any state or federal budget. It has blossomed into a multi-county effort encompassing students from preschool to high school.
 
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
When you can prove success and you’re a positive leader, other communities become very interested in getting it and seeking it out. A community that doesn’t have the program will want to start it.
The lesson learned is if you keep getting the word out and can improve success, more communities will buy in—never give up.
The lesson learned is if you keep getting the word out and can improve success, more communities will buy in—never give up. If you know you can help another community, keep going with it.
 
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
One of the hardest lessons learned over time is being an advocate for certain family and kids doesn’t make you popular, especially with families which may have drained community resources. You’re not always the most popular person when you’re working with the most difficult families. You can’t save someone unless there is not some willingness on their part, and that all comes with building relationships.
 
What really differentiates this program?
Sustainability, financial, and it’s available to everyone. Anyone can make a referral to the program. There are no eligibility guidelines or requirements to be in the program. Anyone can make a referral; nothing can prevent you from being in the program. We don’t care or ask how much you make.
 
What are the keys to success for your program?
Sustainability, very low staff turnover rate, a captive audience, and we have the target population right outside our door. We are located right inside the school building. We can see who drops the students off, and who’s picking them up. We have community buy-in, financial and in-kind support. For example, local banks do fundraisers for kids in the program. Also, we don’t pay any rent so we save $80,000 a year. They know it’s worth the investment.
One of the hardest lessons learned over time is being an advocate for certain family and kids doesn't make you popular, especially with families which may have drained community resources. 

What advice would you people wishing to start a program like yours in their community or region?
Find out the needs of the community and go to community service agencies that can touch all the agencies in the community. Everything for us is neutral; we help with community service agencies, find out what their mission is, what their focus is.

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