Taking action in the time of Coronavirus

To meet the historic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, City Connects staff are rapidly translating the pillars of City Connects practice into systematic approaches that serve students and families and support teachers. 

“Many families of the students in our City Connects schools will be especially vulnerable to the worst effects of this crisis,” City Connects’ Executive Director Mary Walsh said last week. “For families whom we serve, this pandemic means unexpected unemployment, heightened food insecurity, lack of child care, and sudden loss of stability provided by the everyday routine of school.” 

To address these complex and layered disruptions, City Connects’ Program Managers and Coordinators are using existing and newly forged systemic approaches to better understand and respond to the comprehensive needs of each individual student both immediately and over the long term. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/23/20

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:

As many of the articles listed below explain, the coronavirus is having a devastating impact on education, threatening students’ access to school meals, their ability to learn, and their connection to their school communities.

Massachusetts requires Boston Public Schools to make significant improvements.

Preteen years are critical for brain development.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Our statement on COVID-19

Mary E. Walsh
Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects

Because the students and families we serve will be especially hard hit by the educational, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for strong and effective approaches to student support has never been greater. To help meet this need, the Boston College Center for Optimized Student Support will continue to bring you information and best practices relevant to effectively serving children and families before, during, and after this crisis. The Center’s flagship program, City Connects, is continuing its commitment to provide high-quality, evidence-driven student support in this challenging time.

As schools across the country shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, City Connects Coordinators are responding to the needs of students and families impacted by this ever-changing crisis. 

“Many families of the students in our City Connects schools will be especially vulnerable to the worst effects of this crisis,” said Mary Walsh, our Executive Director. “For families whom we serve, this pandemic means unexpected unemployment, heightened food insecurity, lack of child care, and sudden loss of stability provided by the everyday routine of school.”

City Connects Coordinators have been hard at work preparing for school closures. Across all our sites, the most immediate and critical need is food for families and children who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs. Every city in which we work has found different ways to address food provision for students. In Dayton, Ohio, for example, coordinators are helping with a drive-by pick up service at school so families can easily obtain packages of food. In Minneapolis, City Connects Program Manager Laurie Acker and her team have helped coordinate regular delivery of boxes containing food to bus stops. They are also letting students and families know which restaurants in the Minneapolis area are offering free food for those affected by school or business closures. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/16/20

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:

Housing aid tied to fewer asthma emergencies among low-income children.

Virginia will invest a record amount on early childhood education.

As schools close because of the coronavirus, officials are scrambling to feed students who rely on the meals they receive at school.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Healthy development for every child

At City Connects, healthy childhood development is a rich mosaic.

We don’t just look at children’s health or grades. Instead, drawing on decades of scientific research, we look at four domains and what we call the four C’s

“Research tells us that development isn’t linear – and that development in one area depends on development in multiple other areas,” Claire Foley, City Connects’ Associate Director, explains. 

Foley points to the foundational childhood development research of Urie Bronfenbrenner and Pamela Morris as well as work being done by Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child and other researchers. Building on this scientific base, the City Connects model looks at how each child is developing across four domains: academic, social/emotional, physical health, and family. 

But we don’t stop there. 

“In addition to the four domains, we have broader principles that translate scientific insights into practice. We call them the four C’s, meaning we promote healthy child development by providing services that are comprehensive, customized, coordinated, and continuous,” Foley says.  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/9/20

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:

Sleep helps teens deal with stress — and discrimination.

The country needs more high-quality, early childhood data.

The number of homeless youth in Massachusetts soars.

To read more, click on the following links.

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A City Connects Coordinator goes above and beyond

City Connects Coordinators don’t just match students up with community partners – our coordinators also invest in making these relationships flourish. 

That’s the work that City Connects Coordinator Madeline Gillespie does at Mendell Elementary School in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Gillespie has worked with the nonprofit mentoring organization Strong Women Strong Girls (SWSG) to ensure that the program has a positive impact on students.

“We have a robust program with about 25 girls in grades three, four and five who meet with six mentors who are students from Simmons College,” Gillespie says. 

Through the SWSG curriculum, the girls and their mentors learn and talk about strong women and girls. At the Mendell school, this conversation has included both famous girls such as Marsai Martin, the 15-year-old, African American actor who appears on the television show black-ish – as well as less-well-known women such as Jasmine Cho, an Asian-American baker who is committed to social justice.
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The Weekly Connect 3/2/20

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 study finds that staying in school longer can reduce the risk of early death.

Schools and districts try to meet the needs of homeless students.

More school counselors should be trained to help students apply to college.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading