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123 South Webb Road
Grand Island, NE 68802
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GIPS launches first CommUNITY Schools campus at Lincoln Elementary

Grand Island Public Schools kicked off the district’s first CommUNITY Schools campus in partnership with the Heartland United Way and community partners Friday at Lincoln Elementary with a focus on student success and access to resources.

CommUNITY Schools bring resources to the school instead of families traveling to the resources. Families are comfortable coming to Lincoln Elementary and are able to get to the school, thus resolving two possible barriers.

“CommUNITY Schools help us accomplish so much for our students at Lincoln Elementary,” said GIPS superintendent, Dr. Tawana Grover. “By partnering with our community we can personalize our relationships with students to do more to truly help them thrive.”

CommUNITY Schools, Grover said, are directly called out in the district’s strategic plan. One of the strategic initiatives set by the Board of Education is to establish one community school in each quadrant and assess its impact on student outcomes.

“We are excited to launch at Lincoln and see how we can grow this initiative for more students across the district,” Grover said.

Partnerships are a key to the effectiveness of CommUNITY Schools.

"Grand Island Public Schools is fortunate to have community partners who are excited to provide services to families in their home school,” said Jennifer Worthington, GIPS Chief of Strategic Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement. “This is a WIN-WIN with the service partners providing mission related programs and the families learning and growing."

The lead partner GIPS is working with on CommUNITY Schools is the Heartland United Way.

“The Heartland United Way has a bold goal to decrease childhood poverty and spent last year listening and learning about innovative approaches to help people,” said Heartland United Way President, Karen Rathke. “We heard repetitively time, travel and trust are barriers that prevent people from accessing help.”

CommUNITY Schools address these barriers as it is a local resource and opportunity center to help children and families be successful by offering programs and supportive services within the neighborhood school.

Rathke noted the United Way’s excitement to partner with GIPS to provide enhanced services for children and families in the Lincoln Elementary neighborhood to be successful.

“Services provided by CommUNITY Schools can be specifically for the students or for the parents - or both,” Worthington said. “In some cases CommUNITY Schools services can be provided to younger siblings or community members.”

The services provided will be driven by need as determined by a survey of Lincoln parents.

“Our focus is health and well being, community connections, education and learning, financial stability and a connectedness to the school,” Worthington said.

To help parents make personal connections to partners, the United Way is supplying a caseworker dedicated to Lincoln Elementary. This caseworker will help families find specific resources they need with help from local agencies.

“So many families can benefit from the great organizations in Grand Island,” Grover said. “What has perhaps been missing is the connection and the relationships. CommUNITY Schools will bring those resources directly to these Lincoln Elementary families where they are.”

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