In Indiana, City Connects has gotten a welcome nod from the business community.
Our program is featured in the current issue of BizVoice, published by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
“Poverty, homelessness, illness, domestic violence and other issues heavily influence well-being,” the article, Beyond the Classroom, says of students. City Connects “is an innovative concept designed to help children engage and learn in school by connecting them with customized intervention, prevention, and enrichment services to thrive.”
This work is done by City Connects Coordinators, or, as some Indiana schools call them, “family navigators.” And as we’ve blogged, City Connects’ work in the Midwest is being managed by the City Connects Technical Assistance Center at Marian University’s Center for Vibrant Schools.
“We were very intentional with putting the family navigators in our schools that had students who faced the most obstacles and needed additional support. Our family navigators, along with our community partners, really build a network of support for the students, the families, the schools and the teachers who serve them,” Lee Ann Kwiatkowsk says in the article. She’s the director of public education and CEO of the Muncie Public Schools.
The article also highlights how essential City Connects has proven to be during the pandemic.
“As this pandemic has continued, the problems related to inequality and the issues of inequity that were true before the pandemic have re-emerged and been exacerbated especially for families who were already struggling,” Patrick McAlister, Director of Indianapolis’ Office of Education Innovation says.
“So, the decision to focus on comprehensive student-support services was a pretty clear one. We’re not going to address learning loss unless we also work with schools and communities to address the non-academic resource access gap that students and families have.”
A key benefit for the business community is that City Connects helps prepare students for long term success.
“If students are graduating from high school, they’re entering the workforce more prepared or entering college more prepared and there’s probably higher educational attainment – which we know in Indiana is really important when we’re talking about the employment pool that employers need,” Jillian Lain says. She’s the director of City Connects Midwest at Marian’s Center for Vibrant Schools.
We appreciate this recognition from Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce because businesses are important community partners in City Connects’ work of helping students thrive. Businesses often provide philanthropic support, whether it’s the MassMutual Foundation awarding grants in Springfield, Mass., or the global audit and tax consultant KPMG awarding a grant in Ireland. And businesses provide gift cards, internships, and jobs to students and families in City Connects schools.
It’s by coordinating the resources of students, families, schools, community organizations, policymakers, and businesses that City Connects helps enhance students’ life chances.