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Nonprofit helps schools increase engagement through community partnerships

Nonprofit helps schools increase engagement through community partnerships

Love Schools founder, Brandt Wilson, right, with Todd Sanchez, left, principal of Linwood ElementaryLove Schools, a local nonprofit that seeks to help schools develop relationships with local businesses and organizations, has been helping WPS schools for the past two years.

The organization, led by Brandt Wilson, was founded in 2021, when Wilson wanted to find a way to help schools after the pandemic.

“I was active in my own children’s school and knew what they needed,” Wilson said. “I wanted to try to help other schools who might not have resources. I knew schools had needs but they really intensified after the pandemic.”

Love Schools’ strategy is to work with school administrators and staff to formulate goals and connects them to local entities such as businesses and religious organizations near the school to develop a relationship.

The first WPS school Love Schools worked with was Jackson Elementary. Wilson knew the school’s social worker, who helped connect him with principal Tara Allen. Once Wilson met with Allen to determine the school’s goals, Love Schools approached several local businesses such as Chicken N Pickle, KeyCentrix & Cochenor Capital Partners, Cornerstone Christian Church, the North YMCA and First Evangelical Free Church, which all now support the school in various ways.

Allen says Love Schools has helped the school increase family engagement and pride among its families.

“Love Schools has been such a blessing to Jackson!,” Allen said. ”Following the pandemic, we found ourselves with very limited support outside our school walls having lost our PTO and all but one previous school partner. Through our work with Love Schools, we have been able to strengthen our partnership with Cochenor Garvey Capital Partners and build strong connections with at least five additional businesses and organizations. We now find ourselves with six strong school partners supporting Jackson collaboratively to increase our family engagement and student attendance while also finding ways to establish a sense of pride amongst our families in our school that hasn’t been felt in several years.”

Last year, Love Schools began working at Buckner Performing Arts and Science Magnet Elementary, through another personal connection of Wilson’s and after seeing the success Love Schools had with Jackson Elementary, a church contacted the group about helping them grow the effort at Linwood Elementary. Woodland Health and Wellness Magnet also began partnering with Love Schools this year.

“The church had worked with Linwood prior to the pandemic and wanted us to help get other businesses involved,” Brandt said. “We’ve since been able to engage Super Car Guys and Church of the Nazarene who have begun supporting the school.”

“All of the growth we’ve seen has been organic,” said Wilson. “All four schools we’ve worked with have been the result of having a relationship with a staff member or community partner.”