Dental care and fire trucks: Making preschools service-rich

Think of Stephanie Sanabria as a one-woman fiber optic network. As a City Connects Coordinator, she connects 11 classrooms in Springfield’s Early Childhood Education Center with resources across the city and brings those resources right into the building where it’s easy for young children and their parents to access them.

This building-based approach is an essential part of how City Connects works in Springfield’s early education settings to meet children’s needs and build on their strengths.

“We adapted City Connects for the early childhood years because that’s such an important stage developmentally,” Anastasia Raczek explains. Raczek is the Associate Director of Research & Evaluation at the Center for Optimized Student Support, which is based at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development.

We used funding from the Better Way Foundation to launch this effort in Catholic Schools. The first program launched in 2012 in Boston. Today, City Connects serves more than 2,000 pre-K children in programs across the country. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/18/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

How poorly controlled asthma affects students.

The impact of funding cuts at the U.S. Department of Education.

Detroit wants to increase students’ access to laptops.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

Closing “relationship gaps”

A new book looks at how schools can use systematic relationship-building to help students succeed, and it highlights the work being done by City Connects.

“School is an institution responsible for providing the foundation of equal opportunity on top of which our meritocracy can stand proudly,” Julia Freeland Fisher writes in the book, “Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students’ Networks.”

“But playing society’s equalizer is no easy task,” Fisher adds. “Our schools are being asked to level exceedingly complex and unequal terrain.”

Fisher is the Director of Education Research at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that builds on the ideas of Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/11/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

New approaches to social-emotional learning.

New Mexico wants to shake up its plans for ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act).

Research finds increases in the number of homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

The Salem Children’s Charity weaves City Connects into its heartwarming history of helping kids

City Connects staff at the Salem Children’s Charity party: Brad Maloon, Mia Riccio, Ellen Wingard, Sari Rudolph, Marlene Lunt, and Erika Griffin.


One powerful feature of City Connects is that we help community partners reach the children they want to serve.

In the case of the Salem Children’s Charity, we also help community organizations manage changing times. Here’s the story of how that happened.

“The way it started,” Brendan Walsh says, telling the 25-year-old story of the children’s charity, “is that there were four guys, all of whom had some connection to the restaurant business in Salem, and it was coming up on Christmas.”

“They said, you know, we should do something for kids at Christmas.”

The four friends decided to throw a party where they passed the hat and collected more than $1,000.

Then they asked themselves: What do we do with the money? Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/4/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

A Maryland school uses research on learning to improve student schedules.

Pollution hurts student outcomes.

A report points to racial disparities in school funding.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

Anticipating students’ needs with Cradles to Crayons

One of City Connects’ longstanding community partners is Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit that collects new and nearly new clothes and distributes them to children in need. The organization has worked with City Connects for more than nine years.

In the fall of 2017, Cradles to Crayons reached out to City Connects and asked us to help out with a pilot program that they had in mind. Cradles to Crayons wanted to achieve a higher level of services by creating a new, seasonal delivery schedule for its KidsPacks – the bags full of clothes, coats, shoes, boots, books, and school supplies. The organization wanted to launch the program in City Connects schools, building on our existing relationship.

The pilot started at the beginning of this school year. In close coordination with our Coordinators, it serves more than 100 students across five Boston public schools. Students receive a back-to-school backpack with school supplies in September — and three more deliveries during the year containing clothing for fall, winter, and spring.

The goal of having these predictable deliveries is to create a system that’s better able to anticipate families’ needs and reach more students. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 2/25/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Living in high-crime neighborhoods can make it harder for students to show up at school.

A Colorado bill would create a pilot program that puts social workers, counselors, or psychologists in every elementary grade at 10 high-needs schools starting.

A study finds that student homelessness has hit an all time high.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading