About Better Together

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The Better Together Leadership Program was established in 1989, originally named Better Things, by the Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1171 and is funded today by the Santa Clara City Firefighters Foundation.  The Santa Clara City Firefighters foundation is the nonprofit arm of Local 1171.

Better Things began as a program that worked with “high risk” students.  The focus was on decision-making, self-esteem and consequences.  As the program grew it evolved into a leadership program; focused on self-esteem, decision-making, communication and teamwork.  With this evolution the name “Better Things” did not best represent what our program was now doing in the classroom.

The name Better Together encompasses what our program stands for.  Our program is unique from most leadership programs because of how it evolved.  Because of this evolution we have a true cross section of the student body.  The selection of the students is based solely on their unique traits ensuring a successful outcome for the group.

A core group of firefighters meet with these students every week and help facilitate different activities that will showcase their strengths and build on their weaknesses.  Throughout the year they build on teamwork and leadership skills.  The City of Santa Clara prides itself on community service.  The students are introduced at a young age to the value of reaching out in the community through specific events.

Over the years we have found great value in literally taking the classroom outside the walls and into the community.  The occasional change of venue adds depth to reinforcing the leadership and life skills we have worked on throughout the year.  These trips include a fire station visit, a community outreach event and an end of year trip to Planet Granite.

As the program continues to evolve we look forward to more opportunities to introduce these students to life skills that they may use throughout their lives.  One example would be to implement CPR training into this program.  We also look towards implementing a system where the students can stay in contact with previous and current Better Together students and facilitators.  The success of this program can be seen in our past student mentor program.  Select students return to help mentor current students within the program.

IMG_0171The Firefighter facilitators donate their time to this valuable program. The Santa Clara City Firefighters Foundation pays for all the equipment and associated cost incurred by the Better Together Program. There is no cost to the students, the schools or the Santa Clara Fire Department. As firefighters, these facilitators are able to provide excellent examples of life experiences that support the learning and importance of these life skills.

The Better Together program continues to succeed due to the dedication and commitment of the members of Santa Clara Firefighters’ Local 1171, the continued support of the Santa Clara Fire Department and the Santa Clara Unified School District.



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