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Community Partnerships

December 8, 2011

Community partnerships are the key to success

Mark Rangel shares:  Teamwork makes the Migrant Education Newcomer Academy special!

Over the next couple weeks I am going to highlight the different agencies that have contributed to the successful start of the Morgan County RE-3 School District’s Migrant Education Newcomer Academy (MENA). Fort Morgan is a small community in North Eastern Colorado where there are a number of agencies and individuals who are genuine in the care and support of Mankind.

ImageOneMorgan County (OMC) under the leadership of Brenda Zion, is one example of an agency that goes the extra mile to assist the students and families of Morgan County. Through her collaborative efforts we are able to bring the community into the classroom, thus preparing our students to become productive citizens within our community.

OneMorgan County  (OMC) is a nonprofit organization based in Fort Morgan, Colorado.  OMC focuses on immigrant integration and offers a structured approach to embracing immigration trends with a can-do spirit—immigrants and receiving community members can and do have a shared common ground and commitment to a thriving community.  OMC’s efforts are uniquely challenged and blessed by the small-town environment of the community.  In this setting norms are deeply ingrained and implicit amongst long-term residents.  Established community members are networked and interconnected at various levels through personal, professional and recreational associations.   The work of the organization is highly visible.  Amidst the often vitriolic debate surrounding immigraiton, OMC encourages community members to recognize and validate the immigration phenomenon and the immigrant integration process.  For OMC, immigrant integration work is about strengthening the overall climate of inclusiveness of an entire community and demonstrating that there are mechanisms for decreasing the barriers to productive interaction such as providing dialogue opportunities, intercultural communication skills trainings, access to accurate information, access to services and capacity building.  It is OMC’s belief that as barriers are identifed, solutions can be developed.  To better accomplish this, OMC has developed strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with local, regional and statewide organizations thereby acting as a conduit for resources to support the community.

Brenda’s point of view:

Since 2005 and before my time with the organization, OMC has been working to build relationships around immigrant integration and to bring attention to the unique challenges and opportunities associated with immigration.  OMC has taken a broad approach to immigrant integration.  OMC is unique because it is not an advocate of a particular point of view regarding immigration but instead focuses on overall inclusiveness, as it relates to immigration, for the entire community.

Creating climate shift in the perception of immigration and the involvement of community members, both immigrant and receiving community, is an ongoing process.  Partnering with MENA—a newly created program—is an opportunity for OMC to bring this program “up to speed” with that process so that MENA as new program receives a jump start, does not have to start at ground zero, and can capitalize on OMC’s past work.  OMC has been able to share with MENA this progress and the benefit of the relationship-building and networking that have taken place.

In turn, MENA provides OMC with access to immigrant and refugee families.  MENA as a program of the school district and as an education program brings another layer of credibility to the overall effort.  MENA also bolsters the overall effort by visibly acknowledging a need and commitment to creatively serving immigrants.  The more local sectors which become engaged strengthens the community response. MENA has helped to fortify OMC’s work.This partnership has created exponential momentum within our community and beyond. It’s SYNERGY!

Thank you Brenda for your input.

OMC has connected Eastern Colorado Workforce Center and (S.A.R.A.) Sexual Assault Response Advocates Inc. with the MENA. Each Thursday the Work Force Center comes to the MENA to teach our high school students job readiness skills. Once a month, an advocate from S.A.R.A. team teaches a lesson with OMC to our middle school and high school students focusing on relationships, bullying, how to get help, etc.

It is through the efforts of agencies like OneMorgan County and others that the staff at MENA is able to effectively serve the students and families we serve. I will highlight another key partner in the next post.

If you have strong partnerships within your community please share them in the comment box so others can see the possibilities that are out there!

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