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:”
“Port Clinton today is a place of stark class divisions, where (according to school officials) wealthy kids park BMW convertibles in the high school lot next to decrepit junkers that homeless classmates drive away each night to live in.”
And America, Putnam says, is full of places like Port Clinton.
Still, we see a new moment, one of convergence. Researchers, educators, and policymakers are all coming to the same conclusions that we have: Whether children come from rich or poor communities, the right support and real opportunities can help them develop, learn, and thrive.
Science, for example, increasingly agrees that intervention works. Research from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child tell us that children’s toxic stress – “such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship” — can be alleviated by programs and services that “remediate the conditions or provide stable, buffering relationships with adult caregivers.”
On the national policy stage, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that President Obama signed into law last year, calls for schools “to use evidence-based models to support whole-school interventions,” and it invests in approaches to “significantly improve the academic and developmental outcomes of children living in the most distressed communities of the United States,” by ensuring “access to a community-based continuum of high quality services.”
That’s the work we do. Not only is City Connects a proven, whole-school model that drives the right set of community-based resources to the right child at the right time, it’s also an approach that uses proprietary software that makes it easier to replicate our approach and scale it to size. And we’re capitalizing on this trait to grow locally and nationally.
To tell the story of this new moment, we’re relaunching this blog.
So please follow us as we report on our staff members, students, and research, as well as on policies, programs, and innovations. We want everyone to know how much students can achieve when they are fully connected to services that clear the pathway to success.
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