Partner Bright Spot: Summer Together in West Marin

October 18, 2021

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Rooted in community, the collaborative summer efforts of Partners in West Marin focused on meeting the social-emotional needs of students through play & togetherness. For the first time in 25 years, Shoreline Unified School District was able to offer summer programming to students and ensure equitable access for students of color and students experiencing poverty.

In the rural community of West Marin, students whose parents work on ranches or in the hospitality industry are often the most impacted by educational disparities. After a year of remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, Partners in the community were extremely concerned about the widening gaps in access to learning opportunities, but were uncertain about how to create accessible summer programming options, which had been missing from the district for at least 25 years. A county-wide needs assessment conducted by the Partnership’s Backbone Team revealed a significant lack of summer program providers offering programming in West Marin, and an overabundance of providers in other regions. Illuminating this disparity through shared partner data provided an opportunity for CBO partners to shift resources and expand their program service area to West Marin. 

In addition to coordinating county-wide data-sharing among Partners, the MPP Backbone Team also facilitated a series of county-wide convenings for partners to share best practices & learn from the planning processes happening at other districts. One convening focused on student & family voice, and Partners relied upon the input and expertise of the Partnership’s Youth & Family Council regarding how to motivate participation and create equitable access for target-level students. Inspired by the county-wide convenings and relying on deep trust built over years of collaboration, partners in West Marin began meeting separately, with Backbone support from Maria Niggle, Director of Early Childhood & Community Collaboratives. The regional West Marin meetings provided critical spaces for CBO partners new to the region, like Camp EDMO and YMCA, to connect with district leaders at SUSD to begin the process of resource allocation and service alignment. Summer programming partners combined their waiver form and application for a streamlined process for families, and other partners such as Parent Services Project, Marin County Free Library, 10,000 Degrees, and College of Marin coordinated their services around the summer programming as well. 

Having a coordinated framework for service provision throughout the summer also enabled the SUSD Family Advocates — Cristina Salcedo, Glenda Mejia, and Angelica Sanchez — to run a streamlined and effective outreach and registration process consisting of teacher recommendations, outreach through community partners such as the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, and hosting info night presentations & sign ups. The Backbone Team provided communications support by creating a flier that could be easily shared with families.

Ultimately, the combined efforts of the Partnership resulted in more than 180 students at SUSD being served in the following ways:

  • Focus on social-emotional needs of students through play & togetherness
  • Food & Transportation provided
  • Gift Cards to Target for back-to-school supplies
  • A schedule that met the needs of working parents (8:30AM – 6:00PM)
  • Paid High School Counselors from Tomales High
  • Paid Junior Counselors (8th graders)
  • Paid summer months for the family advocates
SummerTogether was such a success that the West Marin Team has already started working to make this a permanent systems shift!

A Special Thanks to the West Marin Fund

The West Marin Fund was a key funding partner along with other individuals donors and philanthropic institutions to enable the success of SummerTogether West Marin. Sarah Hobson was a key partner motivating the creation of the regional convenings, and her participation in the process from the beginning enabled the West Marin Fund to provide flexible and responsive funding to meet student needs & bridge unexpected systemic gaps in moments when both the school district and CBO partners faced additional barriers.