Our vision is for all Kansas City children to have real hope and fulfill their purpose in their generation. Our mission is to mobilize community organizations in a collaborative partnership with a neighborhood school to prepare children to impact their world.
Caring for Kids, a community-school partnership initiative, was birthed out of the Citywide Prayer Movement of Kansas City. As pastors gathered regularly in regional prayer gatherings and weekend summits, they began to ask, “How can we serve our community together?” School-church partnerships became one answer to that question. The economic downturn in 2008 impacted school budgets and consequently, resources. The combination of increasing needs within the public schools and shrinking resources created a unique opportunity for the church to play a significant role.
We saw the potential of bringing real hope to the schools, students and families simply by demonstrating the love of Jesus by serving. After consulting with experts in other cities and a local school administrator in Olathe, we designed a four-step engagement and collaboration process around a simple question, “How can we help you?” Caring for Kids built on-ramps for churches to link arms with each other to apply resources and mobilize volunteers to support the goals of the principal. In our first year we expanded the partnership circle of collaboration by engaging local businesses and civic groups to work together with the churches to help children succeed.
We started in the Olathe School District prior to becoming an official organization where we helped 36 schools engage one faith partner and one business partner at each school. We officially launched as a nonprofit 501c3 located in the state of Missouri in August of 2013.
We are adding our eighth school district in 2018-19 school year. In four years, 203 churches have become a part of Caring for Kids Network along with 78 businesses and 69 civic groups serving 111 schools. Almost 1200 mentors have been mobilized to be a direct support to a child. Almost 1400 projects have been completed in support of the school goals. We believe that this is a movement birthed in prayer and sustained in prayer. Our prayer goal is to mobilize 100 more churches into schools across Kansas City this year.
Serving the Goals of the Principal
The Caring for Kids Network has only one program, which is to engage community organizations in partnership to serve the goals of a neighborhood school through a four-step process. It is our “flywheel” that we repeat over and over again for long-term support to schools. We work directly with district leadership and principals to ensure we align with their objectives and initiatives. The process is contextually applied to each school to create an individualized action plan. The Caring for Kids Team helps every step of the way to coordinate and provide partnership strategies over a period of three years that build sustainability for years to come.
- We begin with district leadership to determine the needs and assess currently existing resources. We host envisioning events in the community to engage potential partners. We also meet with the principals to answer questions and help them prepare for their first partnership gathering by identifying goals for the partnership.
- The District Roundtable event is the centerpiece of our process. We bring district leadership and the principals together with their partners for the first time in a roundtable setting. Everyone has been prepared for this moment. We provide facilitators at each table to begin the process of developing relationships and the start of an action plan.
- After the Roundtable, the Caring for Kids partnership directors work with the schools to model collaboration skills and develop action plans tied to the goals of the school. The partnership directors identify and train a volunteer Partnership Liaison who will help coordinate communications.
- Caring for Kids provides tools and ongoing training for sustainability.
Making a Difference Together
The neighborhood school is the hub of the community and provides an ideal opportunity to make real impact. The Caring for Kids Process helps develop mutually reinforcing activities to accomplish a common goal. Strong school-community partnerships are an important part of the individual support needed for students and also their families. Principals, teachers and staff experience a community that truly cares and wants to help. The church is experienced by the schools and the neighborhood as relevant and important to the welfare of the community. We truly are so much better together!
I am very excited to learn more about how God is working through city gospel movements across our nation. We are expectant of what God will do in the future as we link our hearts and hands together to serve our cities in the name of Jesus.
If you would like to learn more about Caring for Kids, please feel free to contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.