Beginning in June of 2010, the Youth and Families Commission has been pursuing the creation of the Sun Prairie Community Schools. This initiative was launched when a citizen came before the commission and expressed concern about the lack of activities for youth in the community, particularly in low-income areas.
Initially the Youth and Family Commission looked at the matter and chose to investigate the creation of a Boys and Girls Club in Sun Prairie and completed a community needs assessment. You can review that assessment online (PDF).
The assessment took about a year to complete and yielded that there were some unmet needs. While the Commission began working with the Boys and Girls Club, the club decided it was not interested in fully engaging with the city.
The "Community Schools" Path
While the Commission was exploring the Boys and Girls Club option, the YMCA of Dane county Executive Director Carrie Wall invited Youth and Family Commission Chairperson, Mary Ellen Havel-Lang to a meeting with Sharon Covey, the senior director of mission advancement. Covey had been involved with the community schools program when she lived in Chicago. She introduced Havel-Lang to the idea and the Youth and Family Commission partnered with the YMCA, the City of Sun Prairie, and Sun Prairie Areas School District to launch community engagement meetings.