Posted by Jesse DeGonia, Bright Futures Coordinator, Webb City Schools on 2/16/2015 12:00:00 PM
In my four years as a coordinator for the Bright Future program for the Webb City School District, I have had opportunities to speak with other school districts about the Bright Futures program and how it might benefit their school and its students. I'm often met with the same comment, “We're doing a good job at meeting those needs now.”
Before starting the Bright Futures program at Webb City, we thought we were doing a pretty good job too. We were able to meet the immediate, critical needs of our students, but until we started this program, we had no idea how much more we could have been doing. Many times it was myself trying to locate a partner agency to help meet the need, but the beauty with Bright Futures is that you are building relationship in your own community where now resources are brought to you. Instead of seeking out who might be able to help, you now have the whole community at the same table willing to help as soon as a need arises. There is no need for a staff member to feel that they have to just meet a need themselves, because the community wants to know the needs and is helping to meet those needs immediately.
After starting our program, we learned there was an abundance of untapped resources in our community and that there were so many more needs that we could take care of with the support of our community partners. There were resources in the community and people who wanted to help, but they didn’t know how to get plugged in. Others had offered help in the past, but there wasn't a structured program in place to accept their assistance. Bright Futures created that structure to ensure our students success.
Now, with the Bright Futures program, we have a process in place to let our community partners know of the needs. Teachers are more aware that they have a place to go to get help for their students. It's working and we're seeing every day the fruits of the program in our students, our families and our staff.
If you are considering starting a Bright Futures program in your community or have made the decision to become an affiliate and are wondering what steps to take next, we hope you will join us for the Bright Futures Community Engagement Conference February 23 and 24. You’ll learn how the Bright Futures program can benefit your school and community, and I'll be teaching a workshop discussing what it takes to get a program off the ground.
In “What’s our Investment?” I'll talk about the role of the Bright Futures coordinator, how many people are initially needed to get the program running smoothly, and how to recruit and engage your community partners. We'll also discuss activities that will make a difference in the success of your program in the early stages and talk about some of the challenges and roadblocks you'll meet along the way.
When we started our Bright Futures program in Webb City four years ago, we were one of the first communities to affiliate. At that time, there was very little structure in place. We learned a lot during those early years and tailored a program that met the needs of our school, students and community partners. It was definitely challenging, but we found success and now want to share our best practices with others to ensure they are successful too.
Through Bright Futures, our community partners are now very active in supporting and mentoring the future leaders of our community. They were always very supportive of the school, but now they are in the school on a daily basis – volunteering, attending meetings and mentoring. When we tapped those resources in our community, we discovered we had a whole network of support waiting for us. I hope you’ll do the same for your community.
Join us for the Bright Futures Community Engagement Conference! I’m looking forward to sharing my own experiences about the impact a Bright Futures program can have on the students you serve.