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Partnerships Column

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Forming effective partnerships between schools, social-service providers, and community groups is often more difficult than it looks, according to a report from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

"We tell people they have to work together, and then we give them no incentives, no training, and no rewards," the late Edward J. Meade Jr., the former director of the Ford Foundation's education program, said in the report. "The fact is, we don't prepare people to collaborate and we don't give them a tangible reason to do it."

"Joining Forces: Communities and Schools Working Together for a Change," briefly traces the history of the community-school movement and examines the barriers to collaboration as well as the ingredients of successful alliances. It also includes case studies of two organizations that have formed partnerships with New York City public schools in recent years: the Rheedlen Center for Children and Families and the Children's Aid Society.

Free copies of the report are available by calling the Mott Foundation in Flint, Mich., at (810) 766-1766.

Nonprofit organizations have seen an increasing need in recent years for better volunteer-screening practices, particularly among groups that work with more vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

A guide published recently by the Nonprofit Risk Management Center offers tips on how to design a screening process.

"Staff Screening Tool Kit: Keeping the Bad Apples Out of Your Organizations" includes definitions of basic legal terms and an overview of relevant case law, sample volunteer application forms and reference checks, and information about how to check prospective volunteers' criminal records.

Copies of the guide are available for $15 each from the center at 1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 785-3891.

Two years ago, 137 American corporations pledged to raise $25 million to improve day care and elder care in communities across the country. Since then, more than a dozen additional companies have joined the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care, which has supported 355 child-care and elder-care programs in 45 communities.

The alliance has also worked to improve the training of child-care workers and to increase the availability of back-up programs that serve children and the elderly on when regular arrangements fall through.

--Meg Sommerfeld

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