We think this is a new moment.
Here at City Connects, we have the insights, the tools, the programs, and, now, the opportunity to transform education.
Our approach is simple and effective: help each child succeed in school by addressing the problems each child faces outside of school.
We’ve been doing this work for decades. We’ve seen kids come to school in slippers instead of boots. We’ve seen them fill their backpacks with food from school that becomes dinner. And we know that many children have other health and economic problems that make it tough for them to learn. That’s why City Connects created a system to provide children with customized help. We link them to the right services and enrichment opportunities in their schools and communities.
Early on, skeptics said it could take 10 years to see the effects of this work. But once we started collecting data, we were as surprised as anyone to see positive impacts after just one year. And today, research continues to show that City Connects has a robust impact on kids over the long term.
The obstacles that kids face outside of schools are substantial. Poverty, poor health, and other social problems have a strong grip. As Robert Putnam writes about his hometown in his book, “Our Kids:” Continue reading
This week in The Weekly Connect students are grappling with social problems, from the stress of coping with racism to the challenge homeless students face trying to go to school. Fortunately, positive community responses in other areas are making a difference. Parents and teachers around the country are calling for more public school funding. And grocery stores have gotten a thumbs up from a study that says the dairy aisle and other supermarket settings could be great places to prompt parents to talk more – aka engage in language-rich interactions – with children 8 years old and younger.
On the policy front, the Obama administration has released long-delayed regulations for teacher-preparation programs. And in unexpected news, Ed Week reports on a study that says students of all races prefer teachers of color.
This week’s edition of the Weekly Connect has been posted! Sign up to receive this in your inbox as it is published.
The impact of City Connects on students’ achievement and life chances has long been evident to researchers and education professionals. And the world at large is starting to take notice as well! Recently WGBH News profiled City Connects, focusing on the efforts of City Connects Coordinator Anne Young’s work at the Holmes Elementary School in Boston. The news segment explores the City Connects program in general, as well as how it has improved the life of a particular fourth grade student at the Holmes.
Special thanks to the Holmes Elementary School Principal Yeshi Gaskin Lamour, interviewed in this news clip.
Today, WBUR’s education blog Learning Lab took a closer look at the Rennie Center’s “Condition of Education in the Commonwealth” report and policy recommendations. The story, “Report: Schools, Partners Must Do More to Address External Barriers to Academic Success,” focuses on the impact out-of-school factors have on student achievement and features insight from City Connects’ executive director, Mary Walsh. Given the rise in the number of students living in poverty, the Rennie Center’s recommendation for a robust statewide student support program is particularly timely. From the article:
“[Attending to students’ out-of-school needs] has been a challenge for our educational system that has been emerging for the past two decades,” said Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and co-author of the report. “In particular high-needs students, those in poverty, continue to struggle.”
For more information:
- Read the article here, and see our previous post on the Rennie Center’s Condition of Education report here
- Follow Learning Lab on Twitter @LearningLabMA
The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy has highlighted City Connects as a promising example of how to serve students effectively in the second annual Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report released today. In the accompanying 2015 Action Guide—Achieving the Vision: Priority Actions for a Statewide Education Agenda, the Rennie Center presents three challenges facing Massachusetts’ public schools–areas they suggest statewide action to build on existing, effective practice and generate significant improvement in student outcomes.
- Expand early childhood programming: Develop a community-based, mixed-provider approach to expand access to quality prekindergarten options so that more Commonwealth students have access to these foundational learning experiences.
- Develop a robust statewide approach to student support: Invest in broader implementation of holistic assessments of student well-being in addition to effective multi-provider models that allow schools and their partners to address a full range of student strengths and needs.
- Replicate innovative early college designs: Prepare more students for the 21st century by expanding models that blend high school and college coursework, providing students with the momentum and support they need to persist to a college degree.
The Action Guide focuses on existing programs that could, if brought to scale, lead to substantial progress in educational outcomes for students. City Connects’ work is highlighted as an example of the second priority and is identified as a data-driven, successful model for policymakers and practitioners. According to Chad d’Entremont, Executive Director of the Rennie Center:
“The Condition of Education project offers a platform for constructive dialogue among stakeholders about the most effective strategies to promote student success. Through this report, the Rennie Center brings together thought leaders to develop a shared understanding, grounded in evidence, of the state of our educational system. We are excited to shine a light on the great work that City Connects is doing to contribute to positive outcomes for Massachusetts students.”
For more information:
The Springfield (OH) News-Sun recently published an article about Catholic Central, a pre-k to grade 12 campus that is in its second year of implementing City Connects across all grades. In the article, “Catholic Central a flagship of national student support program,” Catholic Central Principal and CEO Pete Dunlap said:
“Every student faces barriers and obstacles, and [City Connects] has been great in that it supports every student with a long-term focus. If we have a system like this in place that prevents or gets over these barriers, it helps.”
City Connects works with six schools in Ohio–check out our partner public/charter and private schools in Dayton and Springfield.
As 2014 draws to a close, we extend our sincere wishes for a happy holiday! Looking back at 2014, we have many things to celebrate and have collected some highlights to share as 2015 approaches.
The impact of City Connects depends in large part on the many exceptional school, community, and philanthropic partners with whom we are honored to work. Together, we ensure that children receive the tailored services and enrichment opportunities they need to be able to learn and thrive in school.
Over the past year, these partnerships have supported our expansion. We’re currently providing optimized student support to 20,000 students in 62 sites across 3 states!
National Network Growth: 2014-15
This fall, City Connects launched in several new sites across New York City, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
- In partnership with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), we began working with 5 CAS community schools in New York City serving more than 1,600 students.
- In Boston, we added four Boston Public elementary schools: the Chittick, Holmes, Shaw, and Winthrop. City Connects now works in 50 Massachusetts sites serving 16,000 students, including 20 Boston Public schools, 16 Boston-area Catholic schools, and 13 Springfield Public schools.
- In Dayton, Ohio, with support from the Mathile Family Foundation, we welcomed two charter schools to our network: DECA Prep and the Dayton Early College Academy. In 2015, the Trotwood-Madison City School District on the edge of Dayton will be joining the City Connects network.
- With support from the Better Way Foundation, the Early Childhood adaptation of City Connects is being implemented in all City Connects sites that serve our youngest students.
- Looking ahead to 2015, City Connects will be growing in Brockton, Mass., with support from the Amelia Peabody Foundation.
Research & Publications
The City Connects Evaluation Team, based at Boston College, has had a busy year. The most exciting development was the publication of a paper featuring some of our early findings in the the highly-regarded American Educational Research Journal. Several additional publications were released this year, including:
In 2015, with support from the I. A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation, the Evaluation Team will be examining long-term City Connects student outcomes and taking a deeper dive into teachers’ perceptions of City Connects.
City Connects in the News
City Connects was featured in several news outlets this year, including:
- Deserving of Celebration: Public Education Done Right
July 3, 2014: “As we celebrate America’s independence … let’s also celebrate examples of comprehensive approaches to education that are doing it right and seeing great results. In Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American revolution, City Connects celebrates its fifteenth year of providing comprehensive supports to students by leveraging community assets and connecting them to each students’ unique needs.”
- Impacting Academic Achievement through Student Support
June 24, 2014: “Our longitudinal research demonstrates that for children who attended City Connects schools in grades K–5, the beneficial effects continue into middle and high school. We can definitively say that the City Connects system of student support makes a positive and long-term difference in the lives of children.”
- Learning Payoff Found for City Connects Program
September 30, 2014: “City Connects helps schools organize and align services for students, including the ‘great middle’-students who are neither excelling enough to be tapped for gifted programs nor struggling enough to be identified for special education.”
- Helping students with needs that extend outside the classroom
November 24, 2014: “City Connects is based on the simple idea that a child distracted by pain, fear, or deprivation can’t possibly do as well in school as a child without those challenges. So City Connects tries to resolve as many of those issues as possible.”
We wish you the very best in 2015!