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Community Activation: How partnerships between children and adults in the community can create brighter future

The Jacksonville community is recognizing that we have a shared responsibility to ensure that all of its children have the opportunity to attend high-quality public schools so that they are prepared to contribute to the city’s economic future. Here at Jacksonville Public Education Fund, we have taken on an initiative, ONE by ONE: Student Voice, that involves hearing from public school  students across Duval County about what they need to be successful. In our various avenues of work, we have tried our best to incorporate students’ voices.

For example, some of our evaluation work involves student mental health services provided by Full Service Schools (FSS). We collect surveys from students that ask open-ended questions on what they enjoy most about FSS and ways to improve the services they receive.

Our ongoing ONE by ONE: Student Voice project has been hugely successful in that we have been able to gather masses of students, explore their experiences and help to implement some of their ideas. Part of the reason these events have been successful is that we have also been able to amass supportive adults from the community to hear what students have to say, provide feedback and work to build on this healthy exchange.

Adults have the ability to come together in ways that can greatly improve a child’s odds of success. In a Michigan barbershop, for example, if the children who come into the shop read aloud, they receive a $2 discount on their haircut, but are also unlocking a lifetime of opportunity. One of the barbers at the shop believes that he is helping to inspire the next generation of writers and journalists. This power that exists to change the course of a child’s life lies within the community working together to help students realize their budding interest.

Adult involvement is key to student success. A few months ago, I wrote another blogpost about children in a neighborhood who would regularly congregate a local funeral parlor because of the caring adults that made themselves available. The primary take away from the story was that students are in possession of information and knowledge that can help adults to unlock opportunities for them.

Ultimately, the road to achievement is a two-way street—there are both adults and students who can and should be educating each other and working alongside each other to create a continuous improvement feedback loop. The Michigan example is just one of many examples of what can happen when we get children and the community to align their interests!

We encourage you to get involved in elevating the student voice at our next ONE by ONE: Student VoiceEvent on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from 8:30AM – 12:00PM at FSCJ South Campus. When we work together to support all of our students, we can put Jacksonville on the right track to becoming the great city we know it can be. Please register here.