Broome County became the 5th NYS Promise Zone initiative after community leaders and members, spearheaded by Broome County Mental Health, BT BOCES and Binghamton University, advocated with NYS to become the first county wide Promise Zone initiative. This request stemmed from the work that was brought into the community through two federal initiatives - The SHARE project, a Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant and the KYDs Coalition, a Drug Free Community grant. Both initiatives focused on supporting students and their families and the community to be successful. A strength-based positive engagement approach allow each initiative to respectively partner with schools and the community to effect change that has had lasting outcomes.
As the fifth New York State Promise Zone, the goal is to create improved learning environments for schoolchildren in high-needs communities. The Broome County Promise Zone continues to be a joint effort of Binghamton University, Broome-Tioga BOCES, the Broome County Mental Health Department and local school districts. The partnership aims to create learning environments that address the needs of schoolchildren and enhance student support so youth can take full advantage of all classroom opportunities. The long-term goal of the Promise Zone is to develop University-assisted community schools throughout Broome County. With this objective, all public schools would serve as hubs of their communities; supporting children, families and neighborhoods with programs including health and social services, enrichment, recreation and arts.
With that, the Broome County Promise Zone's mission is to build the United States' first countywide system of university-assisted community schools with community initiatives that give students and families access to resources, so that all children and families in Broome County can be successful in school, work and life, irrespective of income or other barriers. Community schools allow communities and families to have the resources to support children outside of the classroom so they are better equipped for learning inside of the classroom. University-assisted community schools bring the resources of universities to bear in supporting children, youth, schools and neighborhoods.
University-Assisted Community School Model
The Broome County Promise Zone system of University-assisted community schools are places and partnerships linking the school system, key community resources and higher education with an integrated focus on academics, service support systems and civic engagement.
The School Districts
Broome County Promise Zone community schools are currently being implemented in seven of Broome County's 13 school districts: Binghamton, Union-Endicott, Johnson City, Whitney Point, Windsor, Chenango Valley, and Broome-Tioga BOCES. Other districts are in the process of development. Each active district has a community school coordinator or a liaison to assess and support the specific needs of the school.
In addition to supporting success for students PK-12 grade, the Broome County Promise Zone enables University students to put their education into action in an important civic engagement activity. Binghamton University students across all academic disciplines participate in the Promise Zone through internships and volunteer opportunities.
To connect the resources to support children outside of the classroom so they are better equipped for learning inside of the classroom Broome County Promise Zone collaborates with community agencies and organizations to provide school-based and school linked services for both students and their families. These coordinated efforts provide much needed supports the create success for students and families both in and out of the classroom that ultimately creates a stronger and healthier community.
To ensure the Promise Zone is making an impact for all children, families and communities, a sophisticated evaluation process occurs in all districts with support from all the lead partners of Broome County Mental Health, BT BOCES and Binghamton University and is overseen by a University research team. These researchers collect, analyze and use findings to guide best practices for continuous improvement in local community schools and share evidence with those developing these innovative models throughout the nation and the world.