Denver Public Schools: An Introduction to Our Partnership
When the Family and Community Engagement Division within Denver Public Schools (DPS, District) Central Office wanted to better understand the evolving relationships among their own staff, as well as the relationships between staff and community members, they turned to Visible Network Labs (VNL) to get clarity.
DPS’s goal was to get a better sense of who their staff partners with both internally and in Denver’s local communities. Helping DPS understand these relationships works to leverage its internal efforts, reveal any gaps in its outreach to community partners, and enables DPS to better evaluate its success in reaching marginalized community members. The information gathered throughout Denver Public Schools’ and Visible Network Labs’ collaboration will help provide enhanced, more targeted outreach and engagement resources to the communities and people who can best utilize them.
In laying out its Transition Priorities for 2021-22, DPS announced a renewed mission: “We will focus on our language learners, students with disabilities,students experiencing poverty, and students of color in our priorities.” The three guiding tenets and focuses of the District’s Transition Priorities are:
- Reenvisioning Education & Accelerating Learning, and
- Social-Emotional and Mental Health.
The partnership between DPS and VNL works to further the District’s Transition Priorities in several ways. It will identify existing staff members’ community connections to prevent loss of those connections in the event of staff turnover, and increase the District’s awareness of who is connected to whom and how those relationships can be leveraged to support DPS initiatives, ultimately improving DPS services to the community. Alece Montez, Assistant Chief of Family and Community Engagement at DPS, said “With equity being our north star, it’s so critical that we understand who we’re reaching, and for what.”
The questions that informed and guided the collaborative process are as follows:
Overarching question: What is the extent of collaboration between community partners and the extent to which community partners collaborate with DPS to ensure the district is reaching all voices in the community?
Understanding Network Characteristics: Who are the connectors? What are the types of relationships and connections that characterize community reach and collaboration?
Community Impact: What has been the Central Office’s role in shaping the way community engagement work is done in the community? What perceived changes are seen at the community level?
Stay tuned for a look into our Phase Two work with Denver Public Schools!
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About the Author: Will Jacobson
Will Jacobson is the Business Development Specialist on VNL’s Marketing and Communications Team. Originally from New York City, Will loves living in Colorado and all the outdoor life it has to offer. He’s also a pretty big foodie!