Shakamak Schools awarded $1.8 million federal grant to expand City Connects

A $1.8 million federal grant is helping City Connects expand in Indiana’s Shakamak Schools to support students who are finding their way through the aftermath of the pandemic. 

“This is the first time that City Connects will take its evidence-based model to a rural community, and we are eager to partner with and learn from Shakamak,” Mary Walsh, City Connects’ Executive Director, says.

City Connects is presently in schools from multiple districts in five states, many of which are in high-poverty urban communities. “We are receiving more inquiries from different types of communities,” explained Walsh. “We are hearing from more rural and suburban ring communities, in addition to urban districts. This is an important opportunity to continue to adapt City Connects to be effective in different contexts and in different places.”

In Indiana, the $1.8 million, five-year grant was awarded to the Shakamak Schools and to Marian University, home to the City Connects Midwest Technical Assistance Center. The funding comes from the Full-Service Community Schools program

Shakamak’s relationship with City Connects started last year. As the Tribune-Star reports:

“Through this grant, the Marian University Center for Vibrant Schools will establish the City Connects Midwest Rural Pilot program, continuing its partnership with Shakamak. The school district has been implementing City Connects since 2022 at the Shakamak Junior-Senior High School and will now expand City Connects to the Shakamak Elementary during the 2023-24 school year.”

Shakamak superintendent Jeff Gambill tells WTHI-TV that Covid exposed the “mental health need among students.” 

Kelley Miller, Shakamak’s City Connects Coordinator, adds that expanding at the elementary school level will strengthen the overall educational program.

“We are looking forward to continuing to partner with Shakamak and the City Connects Midwest Technical Assistance Center to serve the children of Shakamak, and to continue to deliver the right resources to the right student at the right time, over time,” said Walsh. A third party evaluator will be studying how City Connects is implemented in Shakamak. “City Connects evolves because of strong research and evaluation. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to continue to learn and improve how we can best support all students in all communities.”

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