One’s view of a working system differs depending on your vantage point. Cooperation is more likely to be practiced and embraced when it helps both parties reach their goals. It’s a fact of life that schools at every level compete with each other to some degree for (increasingly) scarce resources. But in the area of community service, schools would benefit greatly by cooperating more. There are many good examples of students, staff, and faculty from different schools joining forces on behalf of a worthy cause, but there aren’t nearly enough.
We decided to see if cooperating with a “competitor” could yield benefits for our community. Our students had identified 2 worthy non-profit clients (an elementary school and a high school) that needed help, but they could not afford to pay professional agencies. For sure, agencies do a great deal of wonderful ‘pro bono’ work for organizations all over the nation, but -as you might imagine- they are overwhelmed with requests. Our students are great at doing the research, developing the strategies, and building a communication plan, but they needed the help of students who had good production and design skills. So this Spring we reached out to one of our “competitor” schools and asked if they wanted to join us on these projects – and they eagerly agreed! (I guess nobody had asked before!)
For the first time that we are aware of, these two schools that normally compete fiercely in sports, for students, for faculty, … found a way to combine their strengths to benefit 2 great local organizations. And, yes, we definitely plan to do this again! (even as we hope to trounce them on the playing fields!)
Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it!
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