Mutual of America
2019 Community Partnership Award Winners
MERIT FINALIST AWARD RECIPIENT
Family Engagement Liaisons
Young student carrying lunch in school cafeteria

More than 9.6 million children in the U.S. are growing up in poverty. Many face hardships at home, such as food and housing insecurity and other trauma that can profoundly impact their ability to succeed in school and to someday lift themselves out of poverty.

Beyond Housing is a Missouri-based community development organization that was created in 1975 to build strong communities, engaged families and successful children in the 24 municipalities that form an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis. The families in this under-resourced area are served by the Normandy Schools Collaborative, a struggling public school district that was taken over by the state and stripped of its accreditation in 2013.

To address the out-of-school barriers threatening students’ success, Beyond Housing listened to the community’s voice, partnering with school district staff, families, businesses and civic leaders to launch the Family Engagement Liaisons (FEL) program. Currently, 12 professionals from Beyond Housing work in the schools as part of the program to increase parent engagement and identify students who may be struggling at home. Importantly, FEL also provides services and support to help overcome barriers to academic and social successes, including supplemental food, uniforms and clothing, essential school supplies, referrals to healthcare services, and rent and utility assistance programs.

“In just three years, the overall performance score of our district leaped from 7.1% in 2014 to 62.5%. At the same time, our graduation rate grew from 54% to 81%. We were thrilled when the Missouri Board of Education voted unanimously in December 2017 to upgrade our school district’s accreditation to ‘provisional,’ citing improvements not just in academics, but also in system leadership and school culture,” said Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of Beyond Housing.

“This year, we received the Friend of Education Award from the Missouri National Education Association. We take this as further proof that our belief in the power of collective impact is a sound one. When you address the needs of students and their families, children come to school ready to learn and succeed. It’s a model we look forward to helping other school districts replicate.”

Organization
Beyond Housing
Program
Family Engagement Liaisons
Partner
Normandy Schools Collaborative