Neighborhood NESTS: Building community-education partnerships

As it became clear last summer that the 2019-20 school year would include various kinds of online learning and other interruptions to schooling as usual, a group of community leaders joined forces to create a program to support K12 students. NESTS—Nurture Every Student Together Safely—was intended to address gaps in the Iowa City School District's Return to Learn. Less than a year later, there are seven NESTS in Johnson County—including at Dream City and Open Heartland—supporting more than a hundred students, especially vulnerable and at-risk youth whose academic skills and social-emotional well-being have been strongly impacted by the changes to schooling that began in March 2020.

This partnership of nonprofits, the business community, government organizations, the school district, and our faith community is developing a new model for how we can create smaller, safe spaces for students to gain mentoring and tutoring from adults with a range of skills. Two of the creators of NESTS, Missie Forbes and Megan Alter, along with Obermann-Spelman Rockefeller Community Fellow Peggy Schwab, a graduate student in the College of Education, will share what they've done this year, what they've learned, and where the NESTS is going.

This program is cosponsored by the Iowa City Public Library and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

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