In this episode, Ashley Seiler, Chief Partnership Officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, joins Robert Balfanz for a discussion about how BBBS created an ecosystem of over 100 community partners, three school districts, and 18 schools that serves over 10,000 students in a range of critical supports both in and out of school.
We often say it takes a village to raise a child. We don't, however, organize our schools that way. The assumption is that everything the school needs is provided by teachers and staff, with little coordination or communication with out-of-school activities that students and families engage with after-school or on weekends. In many ways this puts too big a burden on schools and leaves too many community assets underutilized.
The result is students don't get the full set of supports and experiences they need, school staff are exhausted doing the best they can without all the resources they need, and community organizations are often frustrated that they could be doing more, but don't have a clear way to do so.
In eastern Missouri, a dedicated nonprofit partner with a listening ear helps coordinate a community-school ecosystem, offering large numbers of young people an integrated support framework rather than relying on ineffectual shift work.