From the archives: How City Connects makes a difference in schools

While the blog goes on summer vacation, we’ll spend the next few months sharing past posts and social media coverage about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive. 

This week’s roundup looks at how City Connects works in schools across the country.

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Confidence, competence, and care: building social-emotional skills in Minneapolis
City Connects Blog, June 14, 2018

When C.J. McGowan became the City Connects Coordinator at Ascension Catholic School, she saw students who had many needs — and also many strengths.

“I saw a Catholic school in the north side of Minneapolis, which is the toughest side of the city, probably of the whole Twin Cities in terms of crime and poverty,” McGowan said, recalling her early days at Ascension.

“There were a handful of kids who had gone through trauma. The trauma of immigrating. The trauma of being poor and not being able to afford food on a regular basis. There were academic needs and some intense behavioral health needs. And yet, there were a ton of resilient kids doing their best and doing pretty well.”

She knew that — in addition to addressing students’ comprehensive needs — building on strengths and generating feelings of competence and confidence could change the way these students saw themselves as learners and could help them thrive. So that is what she did.

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A City Connects connection to college
City Connects Blog, February 18, 2021

Jama Badinghaus, a City Connects Coordinator at Chaminade Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio, has been helping students apply to college for several years. Now she’s doing it in the middle of a pandemic — and she’s encouraging students to reach beyond the colleges they know to choices they hadn’t considered. 

“My role is on the support side,” Badinghaus says, “helping students think about what they want to do and asking if families have the resources they need.”

“We’ve put more energy into making sure that students have access to financial aid information. We’re making sure that students have a better sense of how to complete college applications, and we educate them about specific programs for first generation students [who are the first in their families to attend college] or for low-income kids.” 

For Badinghaus this has meant diving deep into programs like QuestBridge, a national nonprofit that connects exceptional low-income students with competitive colleges. 

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Finding reading resources that are just down the hall
City Connects Blog, February 27, 2020

When Joy Richmond-Smith looked at the data she collects on all her school’s students, she saw that some young children were struggling with reading. 

“They weren’t making progress in meeting the benchmarks,” Richmond-Smith says. She is the City Connects Coordinator at the Saltonstall School in Salem, Mass. “We have some in-school supports, but we’re also always thinking about ways to increase the ways that kids practice reading and creating more chances for them to be read to.” 

The younger children were already getting extra reading support from specialists, but Richmond-Smith saw a way to add another support. She turned to some local readers: older students in her K-8 school who know first-hand that schoolwork can be hard. 

“We came up with the idea of matching younger children with older children and creating a before-school reading opportunity.” 

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“Muncie Schools Benefiting from City Connects program”
INside Indiana Business, November 18, 2021

“What’s going on at home may in fact play a direct role in how they perform in school. That’s why Muncie Community Schools is partnering with Marian University to launch City Connects… it is a program that identifies students who struggle outside the classroom and then links them with community support agencies. City Connects has proven to be a success in Massachusetts where dropout rates were cut in half, achievement gaps narrowed, and kids were far less likely to cut class or call in sick.”

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