The time is right now for Community Schools!
Across the U.S., community schools are having a moment of increased attention and support in response to a growing understanding—brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic—that schools function as central hubs of their communities. When COVID-19 hit and schools began to shut down, community schools had the relationships and infrastructures in place that enabled them to mobilize support services and connect with their students and families meaningfully and quickly. The pandemic has also brought attention to stark inequalities brought about by structural racism, which community schools can help to address through a more collaborative and equitable approach to education.
A number of states, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, New Mexico, and Vermont, are investing in community schools, along with a proposed $400 million to the federal Full-Service Community School grant program. In early March, the California Partnership and LPI held a legislative briefing on community schools. Building on last year’s $45 million investment in community schools, both the California legislature and the governor have included $3 billion in funds for the expansion of the CA Community Schools Partnership Grant Program in the FY 2021-22 budget.
Network members are making strides in supporting full-service Community Schools efforts in states and nationwide. Check out new websites, briefs, stories, and articles in this Fall 2021 update.
- Our national partners, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have shared case studies from Albuquerque, New Mexico (2016), Baltimore, Maryland (2018), Chicago, Illinois (2021), Minnesota (2021), and St. Paul, Minnesota (2016). Additionally, AFT’s American Educator has stories highlighting rural efforts in Rome (NY) and Massena (NY), among other partner/researcher articles. You can find other AFT resources, such as:
- “Is my school a community school?” – checklist for school site staff and coordinators
- “Successful and Sustainable Community Schools” – lifting up the role of local and state unions in community school efforts
- The California Teachers Association (CTA) published a featured post on their blog, Community Schools: Building the Heart and Hub. Check out the great drawing at the top! Their comprehensive page on Community Schools is a great resource with information, videos (including the Partnership’s animated explainer), and links to the work of other partners.
- The Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership organized dozens of state and local leaders for Virtual Hill Day 2021 during the annual celebration of Coordinators Appreciation Week (#CoordinatorsRock) in September. The Coalition also released two publications highlighting local Community School stories during the pandemic and the important role of Community Schools in the future. The other is a guide created by youth to serve as a tool for powerful youth engagement:
- Community Schools: Supporting One Another As A Blueprint for the Future
- Six Strategies To Build Empowering Youth Engagement
- The new communityschools.org website also launched, serving as a hub for Community School resources, news, policy updates, events and convenings, and ways to get and stay connected. Visit the website and stay tuned for more information about the upcoming 2022 National Community Schools and Family Engagement Conference, happening June 1-3 in Los Angeles!
- In the Public Interest has been writing stories and connecting reporters with people on the ground. The following publications have emerged in recent weeks:
- Two new articles by Sarah Lahm via Jeff Bryant and Our Schools:
- Learning Policy Institute has released several stories and briefs about Community Schools recently.
- California Community Schools Partnership Program: A Transformational Opportunity for Whole Child Education by Anna Maier and Deanna Niebuhr (with the Opportunity Institute)
- Supporting Newcomers Through a Community School Model by Amber Hu
- Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez High School: A Community School That Honors Its Neighborhood’s Legacy of Educational Justice by Charlie Thompson
- Investing in Community Schools: How States and Districts Can Use Federal Recovery Funds Strategically
- NEA and the Midwest Academy have launched a Strategic Campaign Institute for Community Schools. NEA affiliates and partners can apply here. NEA has created a new Community School webpage that includes model policies, videos, toolkits, and more. NEA’s president Becky Pringle has identified growing the number of Community Schools as one of her key priorities. She was recently quoted in a great Community School article in US News & World Report.
- NEA Foundation recently launched a community schools page on their new website. The foundation has been supporting the planning and development of Community Schools in the South—in both urban and rural places—in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
- CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) Has Launched a Grief and Trauma Support Program for Philly Kids in Philadelphia Magazine (6/10/2021) shares how two University-Assisted Community Schools are creating new partnerships to deliver new supports for children and families.
- Universities after Neoliberalism: How to Build a Democratic Civic University was the lead story in Nonprofit Quarterly’s Economic Democracy Weekly (8/18/2021).
- In fall 2020, the latest edition of Universities and Community Schools (volume 10, number 1) was published. The journal helps build an informal international network of academics and practitioners working, in different places and ways, to increase the contributions universities make to the development and effectiveness of community schools. The call for articles in the next issue will be coming out in the new year.
- Southern Education Foundation had an article come out in Forbes recently: Community Schools: A Game Changer For Public Education? by Raymond Pierce
- UCLA Center for Community Schooling released its new online media journal, Community Schooling. Each issue of the journal features case studies of community schools, teacher scholarship, youth research, and policy commentary. The first issue tells the story of UCLA Community School; presents a co-authored report by LA Unified community school teachers who describe their schools as alternative spaces where new practices and norms enable them to respond to the assets and needs of their students; presents youth research focused on their return to school during these uncertain times; and shares a policy brief authored by the Learning Policy Institute. They have also released the 2020-21 annual reports for the UCLA Community Schools that highlight their growth and progress. Additional resources and research reports are available on their research page.
Our network has also collaborated on the following toolkit, brief, and stories:
- Community Schools Playbook
- “Financing Community Schools: A Framework for Growth and Sustainability.”
- Media Sutra worked with the Partnership to produce a 6-part series called On the Rise: Cincinnati’s Community Learning Centers.
- Root + All also supported the Partnership in the creation of an animated explainer covering key aspects of Community Schools strategies.