Partners for Student Success (PSS) is an initiative that resulted from the efforts of a working group of representatives from philanthropic institutions, key city departments, after-school intermediaries, and institutions of higher education that met initially under the auspices of Boston’s After-School for All Partnership, now Boston After School & Beyond (Boston Beyond). This group’s original charge was to consider strategies to align the school and OST sectors.

During a strategy meeting involving the Superintendent of Schools and philanthropic leaders, the working group was asked to focus on struggling schools that are in “corrective action” or “restructuring” for failure to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) under No Child Left Behind. The principals of these 14 schools were convened for a focus group discussion on barriers to student success, and additional information was collected through follow-up interviews with individual principals.

This work led to the initial development of the PSS initiative and the creation of an RFP in the summer of 2005 to which schools in corrective action or restructuring were eligible to respond. Five schools were selected for funding in December 2005, and a memorandum of agreement was completed with each school in January 2006.

N. Devine, Wallace Foundation

The Wallace Foundation approached Boston Beyond as this selection process was under way, and provided funding which has allowed Boston Beyond and the PSS team to sharpen its theory of change and its strategy for PSS. Significantly, the PSS team includes Boston’s leading thinkers and practitioners operating at the intersection of schools, OST, mental health, and other services. This group shares a common long-term vision of a unified and comprehensive system that supports Boston’s children, a system that understands the strengths and needs of children and their families, and works in a strategic and coordinated fashion to connect them to appropriate services.

PSS represents a step toward this vision of comprehensive support. PSS builds upon the work of the past, leverages efforts currently under way, and lays additional groundwork that makes it more likely Boston will realize this vision in the future.