How businesses leverage community partnerships to drive corporate growth

By: Jarvis Wheeler, MSW, MPA

I’m a Lucky Goat Coffee guy – and I go out of my way to invite others to become Lucky Goat loyalists. It’s not hard to do … when a business has a quality product and makes the community a better place to live, who doesn’t want to jump on board?

That’s how the Lucky Goat journey started for me … my colleague at Sabal Palm Elementary, A Community Partnership School, brought me on the bandwagon, as it’s the preferred cup of Joe for any teacher at the school.

So how did this local business win a popularity contest against the most popular coffee chains in the world? They started by simply giving back and getting involved.


Good Intentions

A call to the Community Partnership Schools Director at Sabal Palm launched a unique partnership of good.  Serving families in the 32304 zip code – notably the poorest zip code in Florida – teachers at Sabal Palm pour love into their students … and   Lucky Goat wanted to do the same for them. What began with some gift baskets for teacher appreciation quickly advanced to an on-site Lucky Goat coffee station with their logo proudly on display.

The marriage between elementary school and local coffee shop may seem unconventional, but it’s all part of the magic of the Community Partnership Schools™ model.

The model starts with at least four core partners — the school district, a healthcare provider, a nonprofit organization like Children’s Home Society of Florida and a college or university — making a 25-year commitment to collaborate and uplift the students, their families and the surrounding community.

Together, those partners work with local nonprofits, businesses and the faith community to address underlying issues leading to lost student potential. This can include everything from untreated mental health challenges and housing instability to chronic health conditions, hunger and more.

Leveraging the partners’ social and institutional capital allows the school to offer resources and services to address the holistic needs of entire families and the community. It’s all about bringing in the community.

Across the board, these partnerships are crucial to the health and well-being of children and communities throughout Florida. Community Partnership Schools are known for serving students in marginalized and under-resourced communities. Right now, they serve more than 23,000 students statewide — nearly 100 percent of those students are considered economically disadvantaged. The simple fact that these students are in poverty threatens to paint a troubling future, as they’re five times more likely to drop out of high school. But Community Partnership Schools have experienced an increase in graduation rates by an average 30%, completely bucking that statistic.  .

When businesses take action and prioritize social impact, we all reap the benefits.

And the relationship is symbiotic.

For the business community and working professionals, Community Partnership Schools provide a unique opportunity to drive growth and influence through social good.

Are you ready for the kicker? I don’t even drink coffee! But that doesn’t make me any less of an advocate for the brand. Just ask the the students at Sabal Palm – they love Luck Goat even though they have plenty of energy without the boost of caffeine.

Original artwork by Sabal Palm Elementary Student inspired by Lucky Goat Coffee


And the teachers are regular consumers and advocates – both on and off campus.

Good Business

Lucky Goat Coffee is one example of the model at work, but dozens of businesses are finding similar successes, from financial institutions to barbershops and beyond.

The Community Partnership Schools model offers businesses a grassroots connection to a captive audience whether they’re looking for future employees, consumers or simply brand advocates.

And for business leaders looking to further uplift their communities, Community Partnership Schools can offer opportunities on a strategic level by offering a seat at the table of our Community Leadership Council – a group driven to continue advancing the model’s impact and helping more children to realize their full potential.

Because when we invest in positively impacting youth today, we invest in strengthening Florida’s future talent pool, communities, businesses and economy tomorrow.


Good People

Studies show more and more employees want to work for companies that care. The Harvard Business Review released a study earlier this year showing volunteer programs boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve hiring and retention.

For the working professional and business leaders in our communities, Community Partnership Schools offer mentoring and volunteer opportunities to inspire the next generation.

Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS) is a core partner in 21 Community Partnership Schools statewide – more than any other entity in the state. As a co-founder and strategic partner in the model (along with the University of Central Florida), CHS recently launched the Community Partnership Schools Campaign to further engage Florida’s business community in creating opportunities for educational and lifetime success. And we’re partnering with some big names along the way including the Florida Chamber in collaboration with their Florida Prosperity Project: an initiative to cut child poverty in half by 2030.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to create the change you want to see in your community. How can your business get involved? How can you get involved?

Community Partnership Schools inspire momentum, opportunities and stronger communities. Get involved and learn more at