ProUnitas has achieved impressive results in the Kashmere
community in a short period of time. The main goal of this
organization is building infrastructure in under-resourced school
feeder patterns to address the unmet needs and assets of students
by proactively and systemically connecting them with resources and
services, while empowering the community to advocate for their
children. When ProUnitas' founder Adeeb Barqawi was a teacher at
Kashmere High School, he observed that his students' learning was
impeded by unmet needs that the school was not equipped to meet.
While many programs and services existed, there was no systematic
method to connect students in need with appropriate resources.
ProUnitas addresses this need through an innovative and replicable
model of system coordination that allows students to access care
and service providers to work more efficiently, leaving teachers
and school leaders to do their jobs more effectively.
Currently, ProUnitas operates in four schools in the Kashmere
community. Linkage managers on each campus serve a total of
approximately 1,700 students annually; this number is expected to
reach 4,000 as ProUnitas serves all of the schools in this feeder
pattern. ProUnitas works with 35 nonprofit partners to serve the
whole child - the continuum of services includes health and
wellness, education training, workforce development, shelter and
social services, and parent engagement and mentorship.
ProUnitas is able to serve the whole student body by using a
tiered system to provide services (see Figure 1). Through the use
of an integrated data system, linkage managers can see real-time
attendance and behavior data on students that allows them to
predict and identify what students are in need of support, and at
what level. Tier I consists of students who are on track and
benefit from school-wide strategies of support. Tiers II and III
consist of students who require more intensive, tailored services.
Figure 1 shows how students may fluctuate between tiers as life
events happen. As ProUnitas continues to work in communities, the
goal is to have a decreasing percentage of students requiring
intensive services as more and more have the resources they need in
order to be successful.
Barqawi attributes his organization's success to three key
elements: the community, feeder schools, and providers.
- Community voice is a vital component of
ProUnitas' work. It is important to build trust and leverage the
community's strengths to solve its own problems. In Kashmere, the
Community Council provides valuable input and vets the
organizations that wish to work in the community.
- Feeder schools have welcomed ProUnitas'
much-needed service coordination because it allows educators to
better reach their students and facilitates learning. Schools have
given in-kind space to support ProUnitas' Success Centers, which
are available to all students.
- Providers benefit from ProUnitas'
coordination, which allows service providers to bypass the
administrative burden of figuring out on-campus logistics as well
as recruitment and outreach and instead be matched with the
students they are trained to serve. In this way, services are not
provided on an ad hoc basis, and multiple providers' efforts can
come together to create an ecosystem of support for children.
Additionally, ProUnitas is in the process of setting up provider
roundtables and establishing a partnership hub where partners can
share best practices and learn from each other on how best to serve
and/or interact with students. ProUnitas promotes a continual
learning loop through the use of data and student feedback,
allowing service providers to know what works and what
Together, these partners no longer work in silos and instead
address the comprehensive needs of students. ProUnitas' service
coordination has demonstrated promising results over the past year
- a 26% increase in student attendance, a 71% reduction in behavior
referrals, and a 60% reduction in suspensions. In addition, 100% of
12th graders who required intensive, tailored services
(Tier III) graduated. This speaks to the power of ProUnitas' model
of systems work and civic collaboration and shows what can be
achieved when everyone works together to help children achieve.
There are several exciting developments to look forward to this
year. First, ProUnitas will be active in the entire Kashmere feeder
pattern after it expands to two more schools by the end of the
year. Additionally, ProUnitas is partnering with the University of
Houston School of Social Work to serve as an intern placement site.
Interns will be placed across the campuses and interact with
students. This will make ProUnitas' model more scalable as it
relies on both paid and unpaid members. The organization also
recently created a growth and strategy department focused on how to
scale rationally. The long-term vision is to replicate the
ProUnitas model in other underserved areas.
Rockwell Fund, Inc. is proud to support this work through our
focus on middle school dropout prevention. ProUnitas addresses root
causes that affect at-risk student populations in a systemic and
sustainable way by leveraging the community and available
resources. We look forward to hearing about their future
Community Council meeting where students, parents, and
community members come to talk about community needs