One Church One School began in 1992. Founder, Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr. was then Pastor of Carter Temple CME Church, Chicago, Illinois and National President of Operation PUSH (Rainbow/PUSH Coalition). In these roles, he visited many schools and attended many community events. Again and again, he was approached with the same exclamations and exasperations, "What are we going to do about our children?" The query was followed with the plethora of social ills, school failure, violence, disrespect for authority figures, etc.
One of the outcries came from the neighborhood school, Ruggles Elementary School which was a few blocks from Carter Temple CME Church. The Principal was a member of the church. She and other staff were eager to meet with representatives from the church and community to brainstorm how the church could support the students and the school. The initial concern was the need for a safe school community. As a result a Safety Patrol of men and women from the church was formed. The Patrol monitored the area around the school in the morning and evening, ensuring safe arrival and departure.
As the year progressed there was an expressed need at the school for tutors in reading and mathematics, behavior modification and support for parents. Ruggles Elementary School and Carter Temple CME Church remain in partnership, today. As the needs have changed, so has the partnership program. The basic elements that made the partnership a success have helped to create the One Church One School Model: Principal and Pastor agreement, a coordinator at the school and church, program based upon the needs of the school and the resources of the church (or other organization) a core of prepared and committed volunteers.
In 1994, Rev. Carrell K. Cargle Sr., presented One Church One School to the General Conference of the CME Church and it was endorsed as an outreach ministry of the national church. This catapulted One Church One School to the national stage and as CME Churches began to form partnerships across the country, other churches in the community of diverse denominations joined the network. Soon there were churches throughout the United States in partnership with schools. This became a catalyst for other organizations to also partner with the schools.
Bishop Williamson asked Dr. Phedonia Jones Johnson, an educator for many years, to take the helm of One Church One School. Dr. Johnson created a structure and process that enabled replication of the model, monitoring of the process and evaluation of the outcomes. Roles became more defined, development initiatives for each constituency were instituted, Directors were assigned in each of the Episcopal Districts of the CME Church and an annual partnership conference was organized for the purpose of networking, training and celebrating successes.
As One Church One School has expanded over the years, it has developed and adopted some model programs: CDF Freedom School, Professor B Mathematics Program, Attendance Improvement Program, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Keeper Workshop, Community Awareness Television Program, Middle School Moment, Take One Step (Church based program) in addition to its traditional Tutoring and Mentoring Programs.
Significantly, One Church One School partnership models vary in relation to the needs of the school community and the resources of the church. OCOS has been recognized world- wide and has been recognized by the United States Department of Education as a model for supporting schools.
The future for One Church One School includes an increase of the partnerships, an expansion of the parent component, a broadening of its technological support and social media venue to ensure the integrity of the model is maintained and to strengthen the existing partnerships.