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Community School Strategy works to meet community needs

Posted at 7:51 AM, Feb 01, 2021

NAMPA, Idaho — Connecting families in need with the resources to help, all in one spot. That's the goal of the Community School Strategy.

As part of the strategy, the United Way partners with schools across the state to help address the needs of the community. The program has been around for nearly half a decade, but this past year it became a lifeline for many.

"When we started with this community school model with all of this, we knew there were people that needed help, families that needed help but we didn't realize how much of an impact it could be when something like this would happen," explained Mari Ramos, a community coordinator with the Nampa School District.

Community outreach coordinators like Ramos work to connect families in need with resources to help. With historic unemployment, Ramos says the number of those she was serving at the district's food pantry doubled and then tripled.

According to the 2019 census, about 15 percent of Nampa--where Ramos is based--is in poverty. In 2020, that number is projected to be higher. Many of those people are families needing help for the first time.

"A lot of those families that found themselves without a job, found themselves struggling to make their housing payments, where they've never had this problem before," Ramos said.

Data also shows the pandemic hit education hard.

"2019 to 2020 the fall reading indicator for K-3, those dropped dramatically so we're already seeing an impact on those scores," explained Christa Rowland, with the United Way.

The strategy aims to fill all of those gaps. It allows schools to act as a sort of "hub" of resources.

"It becomes the first place the first place a family can go to get that support," Rowland said.

The strategy is flexible, allowing coordinators to wear many "hats."

"Sometimes the strategy is at the forefront of something very new," explained Hortensia Hernandez, the community coordinator for Sacagawea Elementary. "Sometimes the strategy comes and supports educational opportunities or basic needs."

To learn more about the strategy, click here.