District 128’s Illinois public school district Community Education Program has been in place for over 55 years. In order to maintain this longevity, District 128 has changed and adapted their programming to reflect the changing needs and wants of their community.
They have even gone as far as to predict and anticipate the future needs of the community and provide the programming to support them.
District 128’s programming has become more diverse to cover the needs of both the school community and the other market segments served by the district. It can be difficult maintaining this diversity and often, quality can be compromised by quantity. To combat the issue of spreading themselves too thin, District 128 has entered into partnerships. Partnerships can be a great way to maintain an extensive catalog of programming, especially when you do not have the necessary resources.
LERN has seen community education partnerships on the rise. They are an effective way to offer a greater diversity of programming on a limited budget. Partnerships can be made with other community education programs, traditional schools, or even businesses in the community.
A great example of a partnership is the collaboration between the Community Education Programs of District 128 and District 214 to produce travel programing. District 128 knew there was a demand for travel programming in the community, but was struggling to find a travel company or agency that offered the educational programming they were looking for. Instead, District 128 created a partnership with a competitor, District 214 Community Education. On the surface, it may not make sense to partner with your competitor, but if both parties are reaping the benefits of a “win-win” situation, everyone is happy. District 128 gets preexisting, outstanding educational travel programming and customer service while District 214 gains entry into a large new market without any additional cost.
Another great District 128 partnership can be found in their work with local businesses. Partnering with local business can be very effective because people in the community know the business and they are local experts in what they will be teaching. Classes take place both at District 128 facilities and at the local businesses. These partnerships are true reflections of a community approach to education since real, successful community members are using their knowledge to better other members of the community.
These relationships are also mutually beneficial because the local businesses get free advertising and community awareness while District 128 gets new, authentic programming. These relationships also provide outstanding public relations between District 128 and many members of the business sector of the community.
District 128’s use of partnerships is an example of collaborative community education – learning provided by other community members or with the help of other communities. Collaborating with others is what community is all about and District 128 is a shining example of how to succeed in doing this. For these reason, LERN is excited to present District 128 Community Education with the Award for Outstanding Management!
Read about the other 2015 LERN International Award winners.