• Description

In the spring of 2008, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) asked Research for Action to conduct an exploratory study of partnerships between faith-based organizations and schools. The goal of the study was to understand the types of supports and benefits schools receive from their faith-based partners as well as the range of outcomes and impacts that result from these partnerships. This study was based on interviews at 23 schools and surveys received from 54% of all SDP schools. The study found that although nearly half (44%) of schools in the sample had a faith-based partner, the remainder were struggling to create or maintain a partnership (27%) or had never attempted to develop a faith-based partnership (29%). Faith-based partnerships in this study also varied in their complexity, ranging from one-time events to partnerships that provided multiple services, such as use of facilities, monetary donations, mentoring, parental engagement and tutoring services. Although principals cited some challenges to their partnership related to time, funding, staffing, and retaining a consistent volunteer base, most principals also reported positive benefits from these partnerships. Principals at most schools with active faith-based partnerships believed these programs helped improve students' motivation, self-esteem, goal setting, and/or conflict resolution skills.