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Staff Leadership and Management

9 Tips from Out-of-School Experts to Build #PartnershipsWithPurpose

partnership puzzle piece

Call it what you want – partnerships, collaborations, collective impact – whatever your terminology of choice, partnerships with purpose are essential for any out-of-school program to be successful. Resources are tight, time is limited and staff turnover is a reality. So how do you build impactful partnerships?

Here are 9 tips from key out-of-school time leaders. Use the hashtag #PartnershipsWithPurpose to share yours.

“Establish a mutual purpose of providing the best for kids. Revisit it often and always practice the social and emotional skills that we work to teach kids every day!”
Heidi Ham, VP of Programs and Strategy, National AfterSchool Association

“Communicate early and often, have clear expectations for roles and responsibilities and celebrate your successes! Often times this last piece is overlooked, but it’s important to take time to celebrate your accomplishments and successes. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and the impact you’ve made together!”
Lesley Graham, Associate Director, Health, Save the Children US Programs


“The importance of partnership diversity cannot be overstated. Inclusion of representatives of all members of the community is the only way to ensure that as many perspectives as possible are factored into your outreach strategies and programs. Look beyond your target population to ensure the sustainability of your program. Listen and strive to provide inclusive programming that meets the needs of all children.”
Amy Rauworth, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Lakeshore Foundation

“Think about the partnership from both sides – how does it benefit your program and how does it benefit the partner?”
Shawn Stelow Griffin, Director, Collaborative Communications Group, Inc.

“Work together with those who share a common goal to make a long-lasting difference. Always remember to be prepared, well informed and enthusiastic to strengthen current partnerships and develop strong future possibilities.”
Bobby Sena, Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board

“I think the first step in any partnership should be to do a needs assessment – what do community stakeholders see as the skills that students need to be productive citizens and workers? Which seem to be currently lacking in graduates? Then think about how your program fills those needs. Knowing this will help you as you approach potential partners and collaborators.”
Heather Singmaster, Assistant Director, Education, Asia Society

“Develop common goals, objectives and detail the implementation in a well-developed agreement that can serve as a touchstone throughout a project.”
Ellie Mitchell, Director, Maryland Out of School Time Network

Partner Hopscotch

“Building partnerships is just like building any strong relationship – you have to approach them with a hearty amount of love, humor and humility. It should be twice as much ‘what can I do for you?’ as ‘what will you do for me?'”
Erika Petrelli, Sr. VP of Leadership Development, The Leadership Program

“Get creative! Think about the people in your community and the unique strengths they can bring to your efforts. Consider businesses, public services, schools or colleges, healthcare centers and more.”
Megan Halmo, Project Manager, Healthy Kids Out of School

How do you create #PartnershipsWithPurpose?

For breakfast Daniel had coffee and a cup of yogurt with bananas.

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