University of Delaware

Conference Highlights 2017

Strengthening Partnerships in Health and Education: Delaware and the Nation


On Monday, October 30, 2017, the University of Delaware partnered with the Vision Coalition of Delaware to host Strengthening Partnerships in Health and Education: Delaware and the Nation. Community members from across the state came together to discuss the interwoven social determinants of education and health. Conference attendees and presenters examined the issues facing Delaware communities, creating action steps to strengthen partnerships in education and health. The conference also served as the official launch of the University’s new Partnership for Healthy Communities.

Special guest, the Honorable Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States provided the keynote speech. Other speakers included the Honorable Chris Coons, Delaware Senator; the Honorable Tom Carper, Senior Delaware Senator; the Honorable Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor of Delaware, Dr. Susan Bunting, Delaware Secretary of Education; Dr. Dennis Assanis, President of the University of Delaware; Tony Allen, Provost of Delaware State University, and Gary Stockbridge Chair of the Vision Coalition of Delaware and President of Delmarva Power.

Agenda and Conference Materials


Conference Images

Big Ideas: Conclusions from Idea Exchanges

On October 30, many attendees of the Strengthening Partnerships in Health and Education: Delaware and the Nation conference participated in an Idea Exchange. These small group, informal conversations each brought together up to 10 participants to explore a topic of their choice in health and education, including carrying out the recommendations of Student Success 2025.

These Idea Exchanges provided participants a chance to draw connections between these two “silos,” share and learn collaboratively from others, receive answers to their questions, find ways to get involved, connect work underway, and identify opportunities to make progress. Each group was asked to identify one “Big Idea”—the greatest opportunity for Delaware to make progress over the next decade within their topic.

These Big Ideas, listed below, are meant to help guide the work of the stakeholders involved in these discussions, and will also guide the work of the Vision Coalition and University of Delaware Community Engagement Initiative. Common themes included collaboration and coordination of efforts and resources across sectors and institutions, using data and evaluation to inform effective practices, and engagement with families and communities to support children from early childhood education through adulthood.

Idea Exchange Topic

Big Idea

Civic Engagement/ Social Capital Delaware Cooperative Funding Task Force to increase our collective capacity to bring in more federal resources to the state
Crossing Organizational Boundaries to Strengthen Education We need education equality through data transparency, sharing, and aligned goals for learners
Neighborhood & Built Environment Select one Blueprint community and “go all in” for a number of years (ex. coalesce all existing resources, different agencies come together to transform one community based on their Blueprint. Help make their plan real and evaluate that and move on to the next community
Poverty, Financial Well-being, and Security
  • Public health strategies similar to anti-smoking campaigns to address 1) hyper-consumerism and increase consumer savviness on media, messaging and marketing techniques, 2) remove stigma of financial insecurity
  • Peer coaching as a way to scale up a financial coaching model
  • Adapt best practices from around the world to local culture
Racism and Other Forms of Discrimination/Bias
  • Transparent conversations and accountability about structural racism, structural violence and/or white supremacy
  • Create real platforms for people with less power to speak with and engage with people with more power
Food Security & Nutrition Waiver to maximize the education and healthfulness of SNAP in Delaware

  • Emphasize success of program
  • Limit products to healthier items
  • Form coalition of retailers, American Heart Association, healthcare, Food Bank of Delaware, etc.
Developing the Future of College and Career Advising Anchor standards for college and career preparation curriculum integrated into core graduation curriculum (vs. a one-and-done method each year. Need system to gather skills and experience kids have acquired and match them to careers or how those skills can translate into employment, rather than vice versa).
Supporting Early Childhood Professionals The need for recognition that early learning is integral to the infrastructure of our state. We need data and research to support the increased investment to show outcomes for children, their families, and the early learning workforce.
Partnerships to Develop Student Employability Skills Establish a statewide work-based learning steering committee to identify long-term systemic opportunities and to recommend policies and procedures to all stakeholders.
Resiliency and Trauma-Informed Practice
  • Brain science-informed policies
  • Education and awareness of ACES, resiliency (stigma)
  • Mindfulness in all schools
  • Invest early to see results later
  • Safety plan (what want people to know)
Meeting the Needs of At-Risk Students Create a collaboration focused on after-school programs to elevate program structure from recreational/childcare-only to instructional-based (i.e. RTI w/ARTS).
Fostering Student Ownership
  • Student and school choice in academics, etc. (students to own that learning process and teachers/schools to assess students where they are at vs. being arbitrary
  • Personalized, relevant education (what are the skills they really need to be successful? Figure out what their skills are and nurture that)
Two-Generation Strategies to Support Families Collaborative Care Coordination with information sharing and data agreements between education, social services, early learning, and health. Integrated data system across birth-5 and unique identifiers for children in order to increase effective and efficient care coordination and partnering with families
Coordinating a Multi-Tiered System of Support for the Whole Child
  • We need coordinated community efforts to strengthen families and MTSS within the school community
  • Utilize existing safe spaces and community resources
  • Schools to have a living, breathing asset map in/about school through multiple voices. Someone at each school to tend to it and monitor/update it.
Housing as a Determinant of Health
  • School nurse staffing matched to the needs of the school to manage chronic conditions
  • Assessment of housing instability
Self-Care Strategies for Building Resilience Over the next 10 years, we recommend advocating for a thriving educational workforce that is prepared to serve the needs of children and youth by:

  • Developing pre-service training programs that address the impact of trauma, toxic stress, and self-care promotion on learning
  • Require annual, on-line trainings for all educators in Delaware
  • Commitments from state, district, school leaders through training on impact of trauma, toxic stress, self-care for teachers on school climate, academic seat time, and school discipline as well as learning
Facilitating Diverse Communities
  • Truth and reconciliation
  • Advocate for arts in school
  • Storytelling to dismantle boundaries (ex. Health Care Theatre)
  • Values and principles of real diversity come from knowledge, so must: Educate; Enable Dialogue; Be Present
  • Intimate 1:1
Connecting, Creating, and Enhancing Economic Opportunity One-stop approach and commitment for 16-24 year olds
Community Solutions to Improve Literacy Connect organizations to work together to align resources to better serve children and families to improve literacy
Removing Barriers to College Access Analyze student data to identify opportunity gaps in meeting 11th grade state standards and provide interventions to keep students opportunity open
Linking Community Development and Health Network of anchor institutions working together, with strong community input and control
Valuing Student Diversity through Cultural Competence Embed cultural competence in teacher preparation at the undergrad level making it a part of the certification requirements
Building Effective Family-School-Community Partnerships Creating a vision for a Community Engagement Center that will support stakeholder partnerships to benefit all students
Policy, Law, Funding and Structure Update school unit funding formula for education to include funding for health issues, poverty and other social determinants of health, moving from equal to equitable

Inspirational Moments

Kaamilah Diabaté is a senior at Howard High School of Technology. She earned first place recognition at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Communication Contest and the 19th Annual NAACP Essay Oratory Contest. She also spoke at the 2016 TEDxWilmington Annual Conference. Throughout her high school career, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA while serving as the captain of Howard’s varsity basketball team and pursuing many other endeavors both in and out of school. In 2017, Diabaté competed in SkillsUSA National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

We were honored to have Kaamilah recite a series of original pieces at the conference. Watch a clip of her performance and read her original  pieces below.

Diary of a Broken Dream

I have nothing
that’s what they always told me
but they don’t understand why we sell with the homies
or why we ball so hard to receive plastic trophies
and every shot’s a fade, and a scream that says Kobe
because every shot’s a fade, and a bullet struck too deep

for survival

we’ve been cursed since arrival
the government is our rival
we have no guidance
so we worship hip hop idols

the police don’t protect us
they were taught to neglect us
like the politicians that create laws to subject us
but never really find our needs
or properly represent us

because we were considered property since the first president
and we weren’t guaranteed life since the first precedent
so selling rocks to buy ice doesn’t mean an ill intent
it’s a way to get by when the struggle circumvents
or a way to get back time that we feel that we’ve spent
because if we freeze our minds
nothing really exists

no matter how vivid you paint the picture
some people have no vision
and can’t see the consequences of their decisions
they’re actors
they’re acting
they say “packing never lacking” but the cycle is everlasting

they run themselves ragged
in drug traffic
and if you aren’t talking right they pull the automatic
you hear sirens blare and radio static
suicide and murder is the new dynamic
children go and play
but they always have their bikes
because everyday they know
they’ll be running home from fights
they’ll beaten black and blue
they’ll be crying to their mothers
not knowing what to do
not understanding how they’re governed

lost in a system that wasn’t made for them
lost in a system that has no space for them
laws within the system try to cage them in

in the land of the free
and the home of the brave

but the bravest ones are those who hung on the stage
and hung on the gallows

we’re taught to bow our heads as the truth unravels
instead we duck and dodge
and get hammered by the gavel

the streets isn’t the only place that we’re beat
in classrooms black kids feel like they can’t compete
and when they flash news
it’s not complete without a homicide
there’s no more jack and jill
we just run and hide
there’s no more playground games because it’s battle time
melanin like elbow grease
they call it grit and grime

because every day is a fight for the next one
so they just sit outside and hope that the check comes
they don’t want to starve
because that’s how death comes
but when another soldier dies, we call them the blessed one
because they no longer live a life that oppressed them

a life where we are killed because we wanted new sneakers
a life where we are killed because we blast our speakers
a life where we are killed even though we work ’til our knees hurt

in the end i’m thankful
’cause i know it could be worse
but it’s hard to have faith when there’s always a new pyre
another body killed by gunfire

it’s hard to have our heart’s desires
when society labels us as thieves and liars
but we are more than our street attire

we are young kings and queens
something higher.

The Renegade is about a young boy’s journey as he struggled through public school. His teachers knew him as the student that never participated and always had a negative attitude about school. Because he didn’t participate, he didn’t receive his full educational experience.

Though, like in many cases, he was very bright, his underlying health and mental health issues went unnoticed and untreated. When young children face difficulties, they become discouraged. Without the proper support, this discouragement leads to a vicious cycle of pessimism.

It is noted that lower and middle class neighborhoods have lower quality education. Whether it be poor facilities, lack of resources, underqualified teachers, or low funding, the students are directly impacted.

Recently, Wilmington has been labeled as the most dangerous city in America for youth. Personally, losing peers to violence, and watching others become victims and perpetrators, I can understand how this affects the stigma towards school.

Health and education go hand in hand. If someone cannot see, how can they read? The intent of my piece is to emphasize the need of healthcare in public schools and to encourage people to ask why a particular person behaves the way they do.

The Renegade

that hand that isn’t raised often goes unseen
hidden by harsh realities and broken dreams
in a street life littered with rip posters and old candles
for the youth
it can be too much to handle
being hidden by bad grades and poor behavior
but when you feel bad you want to scream
it’s not fair that’s you’re living a nightmare while everybody else lives their dreams

it’s not fair that everything comes easy to others but i always struggle
at such a young age
it’s like the world i have to juggle

when you have no role models
just dead bodies and gold hollows

but you can’t wallow in your affliction because sensitivity is a conviction when your patience coddles

when you’re lost with high expectations
it’s a hard pill to swallow
once you’re labeled noncompliant it’s hard to follow
it’s like having an open field thats been fallowed

it’s like you should’ve did it backwards
and took the pockets from the money
so the money would spill
where junkies walk funny
where the children play and pray
where the children live and die
because there’s stars on earth
but there’s no stars in the sky

there’s no food on the table
there’s no hope for the young
buying dreams isn’t stable
but i’ll still buy one

because that’s all i had
a dream and some change
i would dream for better days
but nothing ever changed
i would look for the light
but darkness always came
i would look for the love
but the lies were never tamed
a product of the environment
the environment I became.