YCS, EMU, Washtenaw County's "Collaboration for Change" seeks to improve student success

Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS), Eastern Michigan University (EMU), and Washtenaw County have announced a partnership to promote literacy, student wellness, and mentoring for student success.


During a special breakfast in Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) student center ballroom June 15, the partners announced plans to scale up existing collaborations between YCS and EMU with additional funding and new partners. They also announced a new reading intervention program in partnership with the Michigan Education Corps.


Representatives of YCS, Washtenaw County, and EMU came together with local stakeholders during the breakfast to announce the new initiative conceived by state Rep. Ronnie Peterson, called Collaboration for Change.


"Ronnie Peterson asked us to think about what's in it for the university, and obviously, if students in the Ypsi schools do well and go off to college, we hope we'll be their first choice," says EMU President James Smith. "But it's also a chance for us to embed our students in fields they're interested in, including social work and teacher education."


One of the programs to be ramped up is Bright Futures, which provides after-school and summer programming, homework help, and mentoring. Another is The Collaborative – Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center, a program that provides high-quality child care for preschool children of Eastern Michigan University students, as well as for YCS families and residents of housing overseen by the Ypsilanti Housing Authority.


Another partnership, the Making Youth Matter Mentoring Program, is led by EMU social work faculty. Smith says the program provides one-on-one mentoring at the middle-school level with a goal to "disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline."


EMU also partners with YCS through its Pathways for Future Educators program, which identifies high school students interested in becoming teachers and supports them through graduation at EMU and becoming licensed teachers. Collaboration for Change aims to strengthen that program as well.


"Education students will be guaranteed an interview in their home district if they come through the Pathways program and finish," Smith says. "We want to keep talent in Ypsi in any way we possibly can."


A new partnership with the Michigan Education Corps will place K-3 reading interventionists in YCS schools, including two interventionists in YCS' Ford Early Learning Center, to pursue the state-mandated goal of all pupils reading at grade level by third grade.


The county has committed to providing additional public health resources, while YCS will focus on refining its curriculum and its district improvement plan.


YCS has outlined a Reconfiguration Blueprint for Success with the support of the MI Excel program that seeks to improve schools with low performance scores and/or graduation rates. YCS has committed to aligning the blueprint with its existing district improvement plan and submitting it to the Michigan Department of Education.


The school district has also committed to having one instructional coach in every school, implementing a new English Language Arts curriculum, and seeking out new partnerships to support the district's goals.


Individuals or organizations interested in helping in the effort to improve local schools are asked to contact YCS for more information on partnerships.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.


Photo courtesy of YCS.