Across City Connects schools, community partnerships have a profound impact on children lives. One example is flourishing in Springfield, Mass.
Last year, as we’ve blogged, after a local family’s home caught on fire, Stephanie Sanabria — the City Connects coordinator at Springfield’s Early Childhood Education Center — worked with a team of community partners to secure a bed for the family’s daughter. A few months later, more beds were delivered to Springfield for more children. Behind the deliveries is an initiative called A Bed for Every Child run by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. The Pioneer Valley Chapter of credit unions helped out with fundraising.
As Julie Donovan, City Connects Program Manager in Springfield, explains, “this initiative is critical for our families. Our students need a good bed to lay in every night, so that they can get the proper sleep — the proper rest to achieve their full potential — and come to school ready to learn.”
Because of local tragedies as well as hurricanes that hit Florida and Puerto Rico, the need for beds has grown. As Sanabria, who has been nicknamed the Bed lady, recently told us, referrals for families often come through word of mouth, especially now that many Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees are receiving housing.Continue reading →
For City Connects coordinators, supporting students and helping them succeed sometimes means giving them the tools they need to share their thoughts or figure out ways to solve their own problems.
That’s part of what Coordinator Josh Richardt is doing at Catholic Central Elementary School in Springfield, Ohio.
To help students share what they’re thinking but might not say, Richardt uses the Helping Hands Locker. It’s a centrally located, locked locker where kids can deposit messages about their experiences. Richardt explains the concept to students, and then he gives them prompts. One can be a piece of paper that says “I wish my teacher knew…” Students can answer in writing or with a drawing. They can also indicate how they want the information handled, meaning shared with a teacher or just with Richardt himself. Kids are sharing information about disagreements on the playground or about mean comments that someone has made about them. Continue reading →
We’re proud to announce that a Boston College research study on high school dropout rates has just been published by AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Educational Research Association.
The study — “The Long-Term Impact of Systemic Support in Elementary School: Reducing High School Dropout” — found that elementary-school students who experienced City Connects see their dropout rates cut in half compared to children who don’t attend City Connects schools.
“Having this study published is welcome confirmation of our impact. Even years after they leave their City Connects elementary schools, students are benefitting from the personalized outreach and support that City Connects provided when they were young,” Mary Walsh says. Walsh is City Connects’ Executive Director and the Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovative Leadership at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Continue reading →
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.Continue reading →
City Connects’ first year of work in Salem, Mass., is already getting national attention. A recent article in Education Week looked at Salem’s citywide effort to promote students’ success, in partnership with By AllMeans, an initiative led by the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A key part of this effort is Salem’s work with City Connects.
Last September, City Connects launched in all eight of Salem’s K-8 schools. This is the first example of citywide implementation of City Connects, and at this one year mark, we want to share three takeaways. Students benefit from:
having access to citywide opportunities
relying on stronger connections between their families, schools, and communities; and
We’re happy and a little amazed to welcome a superstar to the world of integrated student support: LeBron James.
This summer, James, the world-famous National Basketball Association player, launched theI Promise School in Akron, Ohio. It’s a collaboration between the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron Public Schools.
A key component of the school is providing students with services to mitigate the effects of poverty.
As anEdSurge article explains, “Social media lit up praising the litany of services the school will offer to students and families alike: among them, free uniforms, bicycles and helmets, transportation, breakfast, lunch and snacks… It will also serve families with supports like a food pantry and GED programs and job placement service for parents.” Continue reading →
As we expand into more schools, we continue to see growing benefits for children, the schools themselves, and their larger communities.
At the heart of our work is helping students navigate the challenges of poverty. As the report explains:
“The impact of poverty outside of school contributes to inequality in educational outcomes,” indeed, researchers have found that poverty is “the single most critical factor to address in education reform.”
Schools can’t do this work alone. They need “a systemic approach to addressing out-of-school disadvantage,” and that’s what City Connects provides. Every City Connects school has acoordinator who conductswhole class reviews and builds trust and relationships. Coordinators then draw on these data and the relationships to connect all of their schools’ students to a customized set of support services and enrichment programs that are provided by both schools and a range of community partners, from YMCAs to colleges.
A post by Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects and the Daniel Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovative Leadership at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
Welcome to the new academic year. We think it’s full of promise.
Across the country, there’s growing awareness about the importance of providing integrated student support — school-based coordination of the services and enrichment programs that help children learn and thrive.
National organizations such as Child Trends are advancing this work. And state and federal laws are asking schools to provide more integrated support, providing funding to do so, and looking for efforts that are evidence-based. In other words, the demand for programs like City Connects is growing.
City Connects’ systematic approach to providing support and enrichment is making a positive difference in the lives of children and families. Because we proactively ask what students need, we are gradually eliminating the stigma of asking for help when tragedy or trauma strike. Our coordinators are creating positive relationships with families, making it easier to reach out when support is needed.Continue reading →