It all started with the question “how can I help”? An agenda-free, cross-sector question that led to collaboration between a church and school district who are members of the Together Initiative Network in Eastern Lancaster County.
In 2016, Pequea Valley School District saw that many incoming Kindergarten learners were not ready to learn when they walked through district doors. Upon hearing that Grace Point Church, who had already fostered a strong relationship with PVSD through the Together Initiative Network (TIN), was willing and able to hire a staff member to fill the school district role of a Birth-5 Literacy Liaison to begin the Building Braves program, PVSD approached the idea with a “why not” attitude. This not only reflects the collaborative spirit of the two entities, but of the heart and soul behind the TIN.
Through these two TIN partnerships, the Building Braves program has grown to two staff members since 2017, has served thirty-three children through home visits in the 2018-2019 school year, and has made connections county wide with local districts to brainstorm effective ways to positively impact families. One hundred percent of participants in the Building Braves program who were surveyed said they feel more connected to community resources.
The saying goes it takes a village to raise a child and comparatively takes a village to get that child prepared for school. Because of the vision of GPC and PVSD, these families are able to prepare their children more for future academic success. This preparation not only is helpful for learners, but for parents as well. Through parenting support, resources, and strategies from this program, parents grow in confidence as they lead and guide their child towards Kindergarten. The relationships formed through TIN partners allow these parents access to many types of resources that can provide support for themselves and their children. For example, The Factory Ministries, the backbone agent of the TIN, willingly gave office space for the Building Braves staff and allows building use for different events. Being housed in the Factory building has allowed many Building Braves families to get connected with resources offered in the building such as Community Services Group, Head Start, and the Factory Market.
Three other professional relationships fostered through a shared collective impact mindset have been significant to the success of the Building Braves program. Two other Collective Impact partners – P3 Partnership Pathways and Plant the Seed of Learning - have been key players in PV’s early learning work. P3 Partnership Pathways helps to guide and align Pequea Valley with other Lancaster County districts. Plant the Seed of Learning provides a framework for workshops for parents and young learners in the PV community. Lastly, Community Action Partnership has played a vital role in the growth of Pequea Valley’s early learning work by providing another Literacy Liaison to serve families in the community.
This work is greater than just Grace Point Church and Pequea Valley School District’s vision of how to use partnerships and resources to fund programs in untraditional but effective ways. If it weren’t for partnerships like those fostered through the Together Initiative Network (as well as other CI partners), this important work of having 100% of children ready for Kindergarten may not have started as quickly in the Pequea Valley community.