School and Community Success
School and Community Success is a collaborative program designed to limit school mobility, increase parent involvement in their children's education, and help students achieve overall academic success. IHI works closely with parents, students and community service agencies to provide support to students at home and ensure family housing stability. We partner with neighborhood elementary, middle, and high schools to strengthen the relationship between teachers and parents and support school staff.

The relationships and the program are dynamic. IHI staff volunteer in local elementary schools to increase school capacity to serve not only our resident children but also their classmates. Thus far, IHI has sponsored a Martin Luther King Jr. Day community event at one school, school-wide art projects, and an after-school soccer program. IHI staff monitor after-school homework help at the schools, attend school events, and assist with translation services when necessary. We also partner with local parks and recreation centers and other community organizations to offer classes at our site, increasing access for our residents and opening our facilities to the public.

On-site, IHI promotes kindergarten preparedness, brokers relationships between parents, students and teachers, sponsors summer literacy programs, sponsors college and job-readiness activities for teens, facilitates community engagement, and coordinates mentoring opportunities, tutoring, and weekly homework help. We help youth identify opportunities for extracurricular activities and coordinate scholarship, transportation and translation services. We also provide wraparound support to parents that includes hosting on-site presentations by school staff and teachers, accompaniment to school meetings, assistance communicating with teachers and school staff, and advocacy and encouragement as necessary.

In August 2008, IHI was awarded $75,000 by the Portland Schools Foundation to pilot our School and Community Success Program at Broadway Vantage Apartments, a new 58-unit family housing complex on SE 82nd Avenue in Portland.

Results of Our Pilot Program
During the 2008-09 school year, Broadway Vantage achieved an 85% housing stability rate overall and a 98% housing stability rate among program participants. According to information gathered from parents, students and teachers, 100% of students and 90% of parents demonstrated an increased connectedness to their school and 82% of parents increased their involvement in their children's educational experience. IHI's Resident Services staff worked closely with teachers, parents and case managers to address poor academic performance and other indicators of school disengagement - 91% of participants improved academic performance and 86% demonstrated positive behavior changes after intervention. Of the four high school students living at Broadway Vantage none were in need of credit recovery and two are actively working with Resident Services staff on college and scholarship applications. Of the 73% of Innovative Futures participants that were actively engaged in IHI's summer program, 25% maintained their current reading level and 75% increased a reading level. These results are especially impressive because Broadway Vantage was a new housing site and residents had not yet developed strong relationships with Resident Services staff. It should also be noted that the families living at Broadway Vantage are extremely low-income. The average income level of the site during this pilot program year was just 28% of Area Median Income, or $18,900 for a family of four, and 15 of the families we worked with were homeless before moving into the complex.

IHI found the measurable outcomes of this pilot program overwhelmingly positive and subsequently expanded the program to all of our family sites, where it forms the core of our youth and family programming.

How Does It Work?
IHI's Resident Services staff partners with parents, students, relevant elementary, middle and high schools, and community service agencies, to limit school mobility, increase parent involvement in their children's education, and help students achieve overall academic success. Specifically, IHI's Resident Services staff:
  • Encourage families to complete applications for free/reduced lunches. Students who qualify for free/reduced lunches automatically qualify for scholarships and reduced fees for activities within the school districts and the broader community. IHI follows-up with families and provides assistance with filling out applications as needed.
  • Coordinate on-site programming and classes that provide parents with the encouragement, support and education necessary to increase their engagement in their children's academic progress. Parent engagement greatly increases a student's academic success and one of IHI's primary goals is to empower parents to engage with local schools and actively participate in their children's academic experiences. IHI coordinates on-site programming that encourages parents to participate in school events, teaches parents the skills and tools to effectively communicate with teachers and school staff and helps parents understand how they can help their children be successful in school.
  • Coordinate systems to monitor students' attendance, homework completion, grades, credit accumulation, standardized test scores and overall school success. Identifying poor performance as soon as it begins helps parents and schools immediately address the needs of students with low academic performance or other indicators of school disengagement. With parent permission and a release of information, IHI is able to discuss student progress with teachers and counselors and access attendance records, grades and test scores. IHI then works with parents, educators and community partners to make sure that students have access to the support and help - such as tutoring, counseling or homework assistance - that they need to succeed.
  • Ensure that students are able to participate in school events. Participation in school events helps keep students engaged in their education. IHI publicizes school events and works to increase student and parent awareness. IHI also makes sure that students have the funds or resources necessary to participate. Additionally, IHI works with the school and parents to ensure that registration forms and other permission slips enabling student participation are completed.
  • Facilitate a summer program that minimizes learning loss and assist high school students with credit recovery. IHI hires accredited teachers to facilitate activities, events and various programs over the summer months. They also assist high school students with credit recovery.
  • Provide comprehensive eviction prevention services. IHI's Resident Services staff engages an average of 30 households per month in Eviction Prevention. We intervene whenever a behavior or financial circumstance jeopardizes a resident's tenancy and have had great success. IHI also coordinates an Emergency Fund that provides assistance to residents to ensure that unexpected expenses or changes in a family's financial circumstances don't spiral into crises.