Teachers are the core of any education system. Their work in the classroom and the relationships they forge with their students impacts the future of society. Supporting the education of young people though does not fall solely on teachers’ shoulders. The resources of a wider community can also make an impact. A school outreach program builds partnerships between educational institutions and sponsoring organizations to open up new pathways for growth and success. It paves a better road to the future for students, sponsors, and their communities.
The Purpose of a School Outreach Program
School outreach programs are partnerships between schools and corporations, organizations, governmental agencies, or municipalities. These partnerships help bring the resources of the partnering entity into the classroom. In turn, the partnership helps fulfill a strategic initiative or mission for the partnering entity. Community outreach programs for schools develop deeper relationships between students and the communities they live in. It creates community connections for the sponsoring partner to shape the local area and nurture goodwill.
Overall a school outreach program is a win-win partnership for schools, sponsors, and communities. The bridges built between the partnering sponsor and the educational institution support community improvement. It is a partnership that works in strengthening communities and forging better futures. Students are provided the opportunity to work for the betterment of their community. Partnering sponsors are provided the opportunity to affect the local community so their organizations can thrive.
The Benefits of a School Outreach Program
The importance of a school outreach program lies in the concrete benefits afforded to both the educational institution and the sponsoring partner. It is these benefits that grow the partnership and effect change in the community.
Benefits for the Educational Institution
An enhanced educational experience for students is the main benefit of a school outreach program. Students have the opportunity to learn in ways that would be unavailable without the program.
Outreach programs provide educational institutions the opportunity to:
- Improve student outcomes
- Promote civic engagement
- Influence behavior-change
- Educate students on a specific issue
Improve Student Outcomes
Not everyone learns the same. A school outreach program offers students different learning pathways that support different learning styles. This diversification improves student outcomes by helping students better understand what they are learning in class. Participation in outreach programs increases material retention by reinforcing lessons in creative and innovative ways. School outreach programs foster learning by helping students make connections between classroom curriculum and real-world impacts.
Promote Civic Engagement
A school outreach program strengthens the connection between a student’s education and the world they live in. It can provide tools for students to connect how forces in society, the economy and politics affect their everyday lives. It can show students how to influence those forces. Programs that instill student awareness of community needs can also inspire students to find solutions and work toward change. By promoting civic engagement within the community, outreach programs can demonstrate active citizenship.
Influence Behavior Change
School outreach programs that focus on peer reinforcement and social-norming open up spaces for effective behavior change. With an outreach program, students learn valuable life skills through shared experiences. This empowers them to make positive changes in themselves, their families and their communities. By providing dynamic learning experiences, a school outreach program affords students the opportunity to make lasting changes for future success.
Educate Students on a Specific Issue
School outreach programs have the power to focus on issues and skill-building with innovative learning activities. A school outreach program proposal can be tailored to address community needs and skill gaps with curriculum support and innovative learning materials. Outreach programs can increase student learning on specific issues.
Through client sponsors, The National Theatre for Children provides free in-school and livestream educational performances. Grade school through high school students receive the opportunity to better understand topics ranging from water stewardship and energy conservation to emergency preparedness and financial literacy. These fun and innovative experiences inspire students to deepen their understanding and influence behavior change within their communities.
Benefits for the Sponsoring Entity
With a school outreach program, partnering corporations, community organizations and governmental agencies add value to the schools and the local area through sponsorship. This value reaps benefits for the sponsoring partner, including opportunities to:
- Address community issues
- Foster awareness of strategic initiatives
- Build brand identity
- Improve education on mission specific topics
Address Community Issues
Through focused messaging and creative learning ideas, a school outreach program has a unique ability to awaken students to community issues. Programs not only improve awareness of issues, they also inspire skill development to address those issues. School outreach programs offer organizations innovative ways to reach and influence a large audience to meet the needs of the community.
Foster Awareness of Strategic Initiatives
School outreach programs position sponsors to deliver messaging through customized learning materials. Messaging can be uniquely strategic and deeply informative. Corporate sponsors can foster awareness of initiatives in ways that continue to grow beyond the initial experience.
Build Brand Identity
A school outreach program creates a positive space to nurture and grow brand awareness. Sponsoring entities have a platform to connect with current and future customers. Their brand becomes embedded in positive, life building experiences that in turn build positive brand identity. Brand relationships start early. Sponsoring student experiences allows for brand relationships to start when they are most effective.
Improve Education of Mission Specific Topics
Improved learning outcomes, deeper understanding and issue focused learning benefits students in school outreach programs. It also helps improve the delivery of mission specific topics for the sponsoring entity. It is another win-win for the partnership between organizations and educational institutions.
The National Theatre for Children offers school outreach program ideas that achieve these benefits for our clients. Through our educational performances and customizable learning tools, we connect schools with our clients and influence the widespread impact of their messaging.
The Essentials of Outreach Programs for Schools
To be effective and beneficial, school outreach programs need to contain some essential components, including:
- Aligned content and resources
- Memorable engagement
- Developmental focus
- Measuring results
Aligned Content and Resources
The content and resources of a school outreach program need to inspire students and instill in them the goals of the school outreach program proposal. The educational materials, projects, activities, games, exercises and resources need to align with state educational standards and classroom curriculum. Outreach content can weave issues and solutions into curriculum in innovative and creative ways but need to be grade specific and age-appropriate. Impact is undermined if it is not.
School outreach programs need to engage students in memorable ways. You want the content to stick. Develop experiences and activities that:
- Students identify with and will be inspired by
- Create meaning in students’ lives and communities
- Incorporate multiple learning strategies
- Build skills in interactive and innovative ways
It is vital to focus community outreach programs for elementary schools on content that pulls in students. Topics and skills development need to be age-appropriate. This will help improve understanding and a willingness to apply learning in broader ways.
For high school outreach programs, a stronger focus on life planning and tackling real-life community issues is more than developmentally appropriate. It’s imperative. When engineering outreach programs for high school students, empowerment and ownership needs to be at the core. Hands-on experience with relevant issues in students’ daily lives makes for effective programming. An outreach program for high school students that does not feel authentic or relevant is doomed to fail.
The goals of school outreach programs may be clear, but how do we know if those goals are met? Setting key metrics to measure the impact and results of programming is essential. Measuring results includes:
- Using both qualitative and quantitative metrics
- Enlisting third-party evaluators
- Incorporating written feedback and evaluations
The National Theatre for Children presents memorable programming for students that is aligned with state educational standards and preexisting class curriculum. Our live and online performances are supported by supplemental educational resources, including digital games, graphic novels, student playbooks and teacher guides.
Through dynamic partnership building between an educational institution and the sponsoring entity, a school outreach program has the capacity to positively impact students and the communities in which they live. These positive impacts do not just happen today but continue well into the future.