Why Community Involvement in Schools is Important

It’s no secret that parental involvement is an integral part of a successful educational framework. Numerous studies[1] have identified parent engagement as a critical factor affecting the success of individual students and the school environment itself. But what many schools and educational institutions overlook is the fact that high rates of student success are generally the result of three groups collaborating to provide the best opportunities for the future—teachers, parents, and the community. In a 2002 research review by Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp – A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement – the researchers concluded that there is a significant positive correlation between school, family, and community involvement and student success[2].

Oftentimes, the onus for providing a well-rounded educational experience for every student falls directly on the shoulders of the school administrators, teachers, faculty, and staff. However, this limited perspective overlooks the fact that much of a child’s life and education occurs outside the classroom. What happens before the school day starts and after it ends can be just as important and impactful in the lives of your students as what happens during the traditional school day. This is why community engagement and involvement in schools is such an important facet of the educational process.

The Benefits of Community Involvement in Schools

Consistent community involvement and engagement at all levels of the school have been shown time and time again to have significant short and long term benefits.

According to a recent policy brief[3] from the National Education Association (NEA), “when schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher level programs”.

With these important benefits in mind, it’s clear that a focus on increasing community involvement programs and opportunities should be a consistent goal for your school.

Easy Ways to Encourage Community Engagement in Your School

Volunteering is one of the most common and popular ways to encourage community involvement in schools. Connect with local businesses, civic organizations, charities, nonprofit foundations, and other groups in your community to enlist volunteers to come in before, during, or after the school day.

Volunteering can come in many different shapes and forms. Invite local leaders and individuals in the community to visit classes and speak about their chosen profession for Career Day. Encourage community members to get involved by volunteering with enrichment opportunities before and after school, such as tutoring, fine arts clubs, and athletic teams.

Not every organization, business, family, or individual in your community is going to have the time or capacity to participate in in-person and on-premise volunteer opportunities. That’s why it’s important to also prioritize community involvement in the form of sponsorship and donation programs.

Does your school need a restaurant to provide food for this year’s field day? Do your teachers need iPads or Smart Boards to engage students with new technologies? Does an extracurricular club or team need supplies, uniforms, or equipment?

Create and publicize sponsorship and donation needs throughout your community, to give local organizations and businesses the opportunity to partner with your school.

Make Community Involvement a Priority for Your School

The responsibility for raising a well-educated and civic-minded generation of children cannot rest solely with schools. The research review[4] by Henderson & Mapp examined 51 research studies that offered perspectives on the relationship between parent (and community) involvement and student achievement. As a whole, “these studies found a positive and convincing relationship between family involvement and benefits for students, including improved academic achievement… Although there is less research on the effects of community involvement, it also suggests benefits for schools, families, and students, including improved achievement and behavior.”

However you work to increase community involvement, remember that when schools, parents, and communities partner together, great things can happen in the lives of children and young adults.


[1] “Research Spotlight on Parental Involvement in Education: NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education.” National Education Association. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/tools/17360.htm on March 3, 2016.

[2] Henderson, Anne T. and Karen L. Mapp. “A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and the Community Connections on Student Achievement.” SEDL. Retrieved from https://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/evidence.pdf on March 3, 2016.

[3] “Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education.” National Education Association. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf on March 3, 2016.

[4] Henderson, Anne T. and Karen L. Mapp. “A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and the Community Connections on Student Achievement.” SEDL. Retrieved from https://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/evidence.pdf on March 3, 2016.



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