VNL & Denver Public Schools: A Look at Phase 2

VNL & DPS' Partnership

In a previous piece introducing our work with Denver Public Schools (DPS, District), we took a high-level look at which areas the Family and Community Engagement Division within the District, as well as DPS’ Central Office were seeking insights on: who their staff partners with both internally within the district, and in externally, in Denver’s local communities. In this piece, we’ll dive into more details on what Phase Two of our ongoing partnership with DPS entailed.

Internal Analysis

Internal connections were of interest to the District, as some relationships were siloed among single employees or teams within the District, making it difficult to maintain and strengthen connections in the event of a key player transitioning. A key player is a member of the system who is connected to most of the network in question. 

The District has key players that have important connections that could be weakened or lost should they transition, and mapping these relationships can help to ensure that they are maintained, strengthened, and available to be leveraged when a need arises. Regularly analyzing a network is essential when you have one the size of DPS’ Central Office Internal Stakeholder Network; with 250 internal partners, there were a reported 2,636 internal partnerships.

Some questions that guided the internal engagement analysis were: 

  • How long have you been in your role?
  • Does your work affect stakeholders beyond staff and students?
  • Do you connect with those stakeholders via community engagement?


External connections are also of great importance to the District, as the risk of a lost or weakened external connection can be greater and more costly than that of an internal connection in the event of employee transition. External engagement plays a large role in the District’s ability to reach community members where they are: locally, Denver’s neighborhoods and communities.

From the realization that much of learning, and life, happens outside a Denver Public Schools building, it is imperative that the District identify, maintain, and strengthen external organizational connections. These connections, like those to local governmental organizations like Denver Public Library and Denver Department of Human Services, as well as to non-profit and community organizations like Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver and Padres y Jovenes Unidos, can supply auxiliary support to augment the District’s efforts to increase access to support and resources outside of school hours. DPS’ Central Office External Stakeholder Network had 566 members, and its External Stakeholder Network Map identified 818 external partnerships. 

Some questions that guided the external engagement analysis were:

  • In the previous 12 months, how frequently have you collaborated with these partners around community engagement?
  • In what ways does your division or team do community engagement in your work with these external stakeholders?
  • Do you have any comments, questions, or ideas about how DPS is engaging with the community?


This social network analysis of DPS’ Central Network was performed by Visible Network Labs’ (VNL) Data Science team using VNL’s PARTNER CPRM (Community Partner Relationship Management) tool. Some recommended next steps for this analysis were:

  • Discuss the characteristics of the overall network with network partners and make sense of the network maps together.
  • Consider whether changes in the nature of the network relationships would improve collaboration or increase impact.
  • Use this report to track, demonstrate, and celebrate progress toward long term goals.

We’re proud to have an ongoing partnership with Denver Public Schools, and to support the outstanding work they perform in educating the children of our hometown. We look forward to providing our expertise and tools again in the future. Read an introduction to our work with Denver Public Schools here.


Be sure to stay tuned to our Visible Us Blog for more product updates and VNL Team content!

About the Author: Will Jacobson

Will Jacobson is the Business Development Representative 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!

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