In the face of such overwhelming need, what does collaborative action offer? Most people would agree that it is considerably easier for children to develop and learn with the support of strong families who in turn enjoy the support of individuals and institutions in their surrounding communities. However, the increase in single-parent and dual-income families -- coupled with the gradual disappearance of villagelike communities -- leaves a growing number of children and families woefully isolated from helping relationships, peer and emotional support, and access to referral services (Weiss, Woodrum, Lopez, & Kraemer, 1993). When families, schools, and community institutions (e.g., local businesses, community colleges, and health agencies) collectively agree upon their goals and decide how to reach them, everyone benefits. Schools enjoy the informed support of families and community members, families experience many opportunities to contribute to their children's education, and communities look forward to an educated, responsible workforce. Benefits accrue to the staff of schools and community agencies as well: they can observe boosts in morale, heightened engagement in their work, and a feeling that their work will net results. Researchers and practitioners have documented for some time how schools and communities working toward common goals can be beneficial. Communities can provide schools with a context and environment that can either complement and reinforce the values, culture, and learning the schools provide for their students or negate everything the schools strive to accomplish (Ada, 1994; Bricker, 1989; Nieto, 1992). Communities also can furnish schools -- and the students in them -- with crucial financial support systems as well as the social and cultural values necessary for success and survival in contemporary society (Mattessich & Monsey, 1993; MDC, Inc., 1991; Miller, 1991). Finally, communities... [continues]
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