A recent Crosswalk Magazine article spotlights the evolution of the Fresno Housing Authority’s (FHA) local education partnerships aimed at improving school and life outcomes for FHA’s youngest residents.
One of FHA’s most impactful collaborations is with the Fresno Unified School District (FUSD). The housing authority and the school district now have a much stronger relationship than they did a decade ago -- when FHA staff realized that nearly a quarter of FUSD students live in FHA properties or come from families that utilize FHA Section 8 Vouchers, FHA Chief of Staff Angela Nguyen says the discovery was “eye-opening.” The housing authority saw an opportunity to develop their relationship with FUSD: “We realized we have a lot of kids in common and we need to be a better partner,” says Nguyen.
To strengthen this partnership and better serve their young residents, FHA decided to bring more intentional educational services to their communities, partnering with nonprofit afterschool and summer school providers like the Boys and Girls Club and California Teaching Fellows to reach student residents outside of the classroom.
FHA has also been active with CLPHA’s Housing Is Initiative and was part of the discussions, and received guidance, when CLPHA released its data sharing agreement templates. Recognizing this as a critical component to improving educational outcomes for their residents, FHA forged a data-sharing agreement with FUSD agreement in order to identify students’ educational needs and opportunities for new programs and services.
FHA Executive Director Preston Prince says that education initiatives are an important component to the housing authority’s mission of building vibrant communities. “Children’s school success is linked to their long-term health, safety, economic well- being, and level of civic engagement,” he explains. “If we want kids to be successful at school, we have the responsibility to help them at home.”
After a decade of strong intentional collaboration with the education sector, FHA’s is determined to continue growing and evolving their initiatives. “One of the things we’ve learned is to fail forward,” Nguyen observes. “If it works, we try to scale it. If it doesn’t work, we scrap it and try again. If we sit around too long, things don’t get done.”
Read Crosswalk Magazine’s article “To Build the Future, Housing Authorities, Schools Join Forces,” to learn more about FHA’s education initiatives and how other CLPHA members like the Tacoma Housing Authority and Boston Housing Authority are also collaborating with schools to improve young residents’ life outcomes.