Coordinators are the heart of City Connects

Josh Richardt, City Connects Coordinator at Catholic Central Elementary School in Ohio


Our mission is to build a network of support and care for the students that we serve — but this is only possible thanks to the hard work of our coordinators. They are the ones who, everyday, forge strong relationships with teachers and school staff, students and parents, and community partners to effectively provide individualized supports for students depending on their particular situation and circumstances.

Coordinators greet students at the bus stop. They catch up with parents in the hallway. They talk to teachers, school nurses, and principals. They are friendly. They are approachable.

And they do the core, City Connects work of conducting whole class reviews — assessing the strengths and needs of every student in every school. They connect students to services in school; and coordinators connect students to dozens of community partners outside school who provide everything from dental care and mental health counseling to summer camps and after-school programs.

Last year, we delivered more than 248,000 services to students, of which more than 16,000 were provided directly by our coordinators.

As Pat DiNatale, City Connects’ Director of New Practice, explains:

“Every day coordinators bring hope to students because students know there is someone at school who knows them and their family well, and who will support them in their academic journey.

“Coordinators bring hope to teachers because teachers learn more about their students through coordinators who become trusted partners who can help with the out-of-school factors that students face. And coordinators bring hope to administrators, because they also know coordinators are trusted partners who help address the issues students bring to school, and this gives administrators time to go into classrooms and support instruction.”

A City Connects principal told us that her coordinator had “become an integral part of my school team. She knows kids and their families across all grades. She is respected and trusted by our whole community!”

Julia Vogel, City Connects Coordinator at the Dever School in Boston

Our community partners really enjoy working with coordinators. Many see a huge difference in their ability to support children and provide the right services to the right child.

“City Connects coordinators were our first connections to the schools and continue to be our strongest partnership. The coordinators understand that helping the whole child includes supporting the mothers of our schools. Through our partnership, we have been able to provide on- and off-site support and expertise to families seeking housing stability or food. We have created safe spaces in schools that help us fulfill our mission of helping poor and homeless women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security.”
– Tenisha Daluz, Director of the Rosie’s Place School Collaborative

City Connects’ program managers, who oversee the work of coordinators, also see the power of coordinators’ work.

“The Ohio coordinators work tirelessly to tailor services for their student’s individual needs. Their role in the schools is essential for the success of our students and their love and devotion to the students is obvious day to day!”
– Mary Callahan, Program Manager in Ohio

In Indianapolis, where we’ve just launched: “Coordinators are trailblazers who are implementing an outstanding program in a new city. They are knowledgeable about children and their needs. They are relationship builders. They connect students, families, and the community. Coordinators help everyone else become more successful.”
– Jeanette DeBruhl, Program Manager in Indiana

Cory Hardin (wearing a white cap and speaking to the team), City Connects Coordinator at the Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Ohio


“The incredible energy that exists among the [Salem] coordinators when they get together for professional development is unlike any team I’ve worked on. These amazing, problem-solving professionals are always focused on making sure kids and families get what they need, and they do it together in a fun and engaging way. It never feels like ‘work’ when I’m around my Coordinators.”
– Ellen Wingard, Program Manager in Salem, Mass.

“Coordinators are much appreciated for all they do for students and families! They are everything to a school and the heart and soul! They wear many hats, from counselor to lunch monitor to teacher! They do it all!”
– Julie Donovan, Program Manager in Springfield, Mass.

“I have been working in education for almost thirty years — for over three years with City Connects — and I cannot imagine a school without a City Connects Coordinator. While many schools say that they address the needs of the whole child, nowhere is it more evident than when a school has a City Connects Coordinator.

“Thank you, City Connects Coordinators, for the essential help and support that you provide to every student, as well as families and the schools. Your expertise and compassion are making a huge difference in the lives of many students. Thank you!”
– Laurie Acker, Program Manager, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota

Abby Westcott, City Connects Coordinator at the Edison School in Boston


“As another year of City Connects gets underway, I see the thoughtful, engaging, and dedicated approaches of my coordinators. Their work is full of daily challenges, but they turn these challenges into opportunities. These opportunities lead to better connections with students and parents and they show school communities how important coordinators are. I feel fortunate to work with so many professional and passionate individuals.”
– Tory Cigna, Program Manager in Boston

And as Dr. Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects, regularly says:

“Our coordinators are the heart of City Connects. They are the one who build this 21st century village that children need to learn and thrive. Their connection to their students, their eagerness to help them combined with their hard work and creativity is what makes City Connects so special. We are so proud of them and very grateful to have such a stellar team.”

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