Building Resilient Communities: How Isaac School District turned an old house into a thriving resource center for all (PART ONE)
This month, we’re exploring some of the ways schools can act as hubs of connection and promote wellness for children, families, and entire communities. When schools and communities unite, they create opportunities for everyone to thrive.
One incredible example of this work in our state is the Isaac Family Resource Center – a collaboration between the Isaac School District, community members and various organizations with a shared vision of wellness and success for their neighborhood.
Isaac School District consultant Sarah Gonzalez helped make this vision a reality, and shared insights with us about the need for a Resource Center in the community, as well as the process, challenges, and rewards of establishing it.
Isaac School District is a 100% Title 1 school district that provides free or reduced lunch to all 7,500 students. The district is comprised of 11 schools in the Phoenix metro area. The Isaac community experiences high rates of crime, has limited access to health and social services, is located in a food desert, and has an above average poverty level. Residents in the area also face language and cultural barriers and fear when attempting to access resources for their families.
“Given the vast need of children and families residing in the Isaac community, student learning is being impacted significantly,” Sarah said. “Teachers and school administrators find themselves wearing numerous hats in addition to their primary role of teaching.”
Isaac School District recognized that in order for students to be successful in the classroom, and ultimately in life, the needs of the “whole child” needed to be addressed.
“The District believed that Family Resource Center would further their mission by supporting parents so that they can become better equipped to nurture their child’s academic and life success,” Sarah explained. “The Resource Center would serve as a ‘community health hub’ where the Isaac community can obtain support to overcome challenges, create healthy connections, and participate in opportunities that promote leadership and giving back to the community.”
And thus, development of the Family Resource Center began in December 2015.
The Building Blocks
Over 20 years ago, a house was donated to Isaac School District. For years, the house was used for storage, but will now be home to the Family Resource Center.
“Despite the poor condition of the house, the community embraced it,” Sarah said. “With the support of Valley of the Sun United Way, monthly beautification events were scheduled where parents, residents, businesses, and community organizations took part in cleaning, painting, planting, and providing minor renovations to the facility.”
The development of the Resource Center is a shining example of true “community driven” approach. The team partnered with parents, staff, community organizations and leaders (including our very own executive director, Adrienne Udarbe), businesses, and even the state and county to plan and create the center.
The team performed an assessment to identify strengths and needs in the community. With support from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Preventative Health Collaborative, the district was able to form an Action Learning Team and Family Resource Center Committee. The committee – which was full of parents, residents, businesses, and more – helped develop the strategic plan for the center.
After months of planning, paperwork, collaboration, and an extreme facelift for the house, Isaac School District looked toward community members to decide which resources would benefit their community the most.
Tune in next week to learn more about how this incredible team worked with residents and various partners to bring a valuable resource center to life to their community.
"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own."
- Cesar Chavez
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