Exploring School-Community Partnerships to Support Family Resilience

This summer internship will support the Smith-Lever project 2020-21-268: Exploring School-Extension Partnerships with a Focus on Parenting Education. This extension project will explore potential mechanisms in order to develop and pilot-test strategies and tools for creating structured long-term partnerships between county extension organizations and rural schools in NYS, with a specific focus on parent education. Our prior research has identified that leadership in rural school districts believe that sustained engagement with vulnerable parents is a key weakness in their current efforts to improve community and family resilience. We hypothesize that new models of offering parent and family support services through school-extension partnerships may be a sustainable and cost-effective way to enhance this service framework. Working collaboratively with county extension organizations, two key objectives of our project are to (1) identify potential mechanisms to create opportunities for structured, long-term partnerships between county organizations and rural school districts, and (2) develop strategies and tools that county organizations may use to promote structured, long-term partnerships with schools in their county. Work toward these objectives will be guided by a Steering Committee of Cornell project leaders and select Executive Directors of county extension organizations who have successfully implemented school programs and partnerships. We are interested in employing a CHE-CCE summer intern to work in one of these county organizations.

Roles and responsibilities 

The goal of the internship is to document current and past school-extension partnerships around parent support and education to identify key elements (including origination, planning, staffing, funding) that promote success or create barriers to success. The intern will use information from program documentation, interviews with organization leadership and staff, responses to a survey of county extension offices in rural counties (to be fielded in spring 2021), and relevant published literature to complete the project. The intern will be responsible for producing a final written report. The intern will be provided with all contacts and data and will be mentored in developing interview questions and approaches and in developing the organization and content of the report. If the conference is held, and if the intern is available, they will be invited to attend the annual NYS Rural Schools Association conference in Cooperstown NY July 11-13 2021.

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to students in Cornell University's College of Human Ecology.

We seek a dependable self-starter with excellent verbal and written communication skills. Previous coursework in research methods will be helpful.

Learning outcomes 

  • Describe the history, operation, and impact of several school-extension partnerships in New York state
  • Propose key elements that determine the success of school-extension partnerships to support family resilience
  • Carry out interviews of program professionals to obtain important and relevant specific knowledge
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources to draw appropriate conclusions
  • Write a complete research report in a style suitable for a professional readership.