Johns Hopkins University looks at City Connects

Last month the Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Education Policy hosted a conversation in Baltimore on “A Holistic Approach to Student Needs: Community Schools and Integrated Student Supports.” The event featured City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh, the Daniel E. Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovation at the Boston College Lynch School of Education.

The event’s central question: What do we know about how can schools “nurture students’ intellectual progress” and address “the substantial non-school stressors that often interfere with learning?”

As it turns out, we know quite a bit. Research continues to show that addressing children’s out-of-school problems helps them succeed in school.

The conversation considered a variety of programs that help students “from community schools to Integrated Student Support models” – and how these programs meet students’ academic, emotional, and physical needs?

This event follows up on a Johns Hopkins paper that features a number of student support programs including City Connects.

As this paper explains about City Connects, our coordinators “‘connect students to a customized set of services through collaboration with families, teachers, school staff, and community agencies.’”

“Every student in each class is evaluated to determine strengths and needs across four domains: academic performance, social emotional skills, physical health, and family dynamics.”

Indeed, coordinators drive our model. They are social workers and counselors whose “knowledge of, and relationships with, community service providers” enables them to “quickly identify and leverage supports” that allow for “earlier and deeper interventions.”

Event participants noted that this is a promising time because there is general support for holistic approaches “in state legislatures and amongst educators and clinicians, and a growing body of empirical research to help inform the way forward.”

City Connects is on the leading edge of this work. Because we are based at the Lynch School of Education, we have a unique practice-research feedback loop. This allows us to serve students, as well as help inform practitioners and policymakers about our impact on student outcomes and effective practices.

Thank you to Johns Hopkins for inviting us to be part of this important conversation about helping students succeed!

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