Groups hope to make “collective impact” in Lancaster

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LANCASTER, Pa. - Community groups and the School District of Lancaster are partnering up to tackle some lofty goals and ensure families and children are given everything they need to succeed.

They are hoping to make what they call "collective impact" on the city, which includes preparedness through education. In SDoL's case, that includes focusing on inclusion of lower-income, refugee and immigrant families.

"It really makes a difference in immigrants' lives when they come to a place that is welcoming rather than pushing them away, and we really strive to help make them feel comfortable by providing them the necessary resources," said district Superintendent Damaris Rau.

The groups hope by 2025 to ensure all young children are fully prepared for kindergarten, and that all teens and adults have the skills necessary to seek post-secondary education, be that through college or a trade.

"If we want successful schools we have to serve their overall communities, and if we want successful communities, we have to invest and really gauge metrics that work in schools," said Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania's secretary of education and former district superintendent.

The groups say they are also working toward a 50 percent reduction of people living in poverty, and want all families to have what they call a medical home, a place where they have an established history of healthcare.

Families can do that with assistance provided by community groups that fill a role as service providers, according to Dan Jurman of the Community Action Partnership. There is a willingness from all the groups to work together toward these goals.

"It means there's hope, getting people out of their silos and working together and worrying less about credit and more about results is a big shift in a lot of communities," Jurman said. "It's shown great results all around the country, and we're happy to see it embraced the way that it has been in Lancaster."

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