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The Institute for Educational Leadership's 2023 National Community Schools and Family Engagement Conference

Wednesday Jun 21st, 2023

United Way of Erie County Community School Delegation recently participated in The Institute for Educational Leadership’s 2023 National Community Schools and Family Engagement Conference, held June 7-9 in downtown Philadelphia. This year’s theme, “Spreading Love and Supporting All Children,” brought participants from across the country together for a series of presentations and networking opportunities to discuss strategies for the implementation and improvement of community schools. United Way’s team spent time touring local community schools, attending information sessions and participating in breakout discussions with other professionals invested in the Community School Model.

United Way's team attended sessions on topics that reflected the range of barriers to learning children face. Sessions included strategies to improve family engagement and involvement, enhance data collection and outcome reporting and boost kindergarten attendance. 

“It was incredibly valuable to be able to talk to other organizations that are also involved in work at community schools,” said Jessica Belousov, community impact coordinator. “Our team all attended different sessions so we could bring home as many ideas and viewpoints as possible. The conference really put into perspective the wide range of issues the Community School Model addresses.” 

Several members of United Way’s delegation hosted a breakout session titled “Building an Effective, Diverse Community School Partner Coalition: How to Maximize Local Assets.” The session highlighted the overall work of United Way of Erie County as the backbone organization of our local Community School Model. United Way works intentionally to leverage local partners—corporate and funding partners, lead partners, program partners and community resources—to support our community schools. 

The session saw an incredible turnout, as the room was filled to capacity and left with standing room only. Attendees heard directly from Lori Krause, senior director of community impact, Shanna Potter, community school director of Harding Elementary and Tim Sabol, principal of Diehl Elementary. Shanna and Tim shared their experiences and examples of how they leverage community partnerships to elevate the work done in their own schools. 

"The conference was a great opportunity to collaborate and network with others around the nation who are deeply invested in community schools and share with them the amazing work we are doing, locally,” said Lori. “I look forward to sharing learned ideas and insights with our United Way team!"