City Connects was featured in the news this summer in articles that emphasize the importance of providing integrated student support.
Here’s a roundup of those stories and their focus on key aspects of the City Connects model, including funding sources, data collection that supports students’ success, our work with community partners, and our partnerships with academic researchers.
“The program is called City Connects and it will be organized through Marian University’s Center for Vibrant Schools and Boston College, where the program first began.
“ ‘If the student is coming to class every day not having eaten, you can put a million academic interventions in place, and it just won’t address it,’ Jillian Lain, City Connects Midwest Coordinator, said.
“Essentially, if basic needs aren’t met, students can’t learn.
“ ‘City Connects not only talks about the academic challenges but also addresses out-of-school factors like needs of the family,’ Lain explained.”
This week, we will focus on the Sinclair Community College Pilot program.
Thanks to funding from the Mathile Family Foundation, Sinclair-City Connects was launched in 2016. The program, as our progress report explains, is “a comprehensive and coordinated system that fosters the development of relationships among students, advisors, faculty, and staff.”
The goal is to build “a supportive learning environment that is attentive to student strengths and needs and tailors processes to help students meet academic goals and postsecondary success.”
Students receive support from advisors who begin with a core component of City Connects: building relationships.
As one advisor explains, telling community college students about City Connects includes explaining the “holistic piece… that if you have concerns or other issues, even if they’re not related to academics, I’m here for you as an advisor. And I think that’s where they start to feel a connection to you because you’re sharing with them that you realize that they are more than just a student…we’re here for you for more than just helping you determine what classes you need and how to register.”
As City Connects expands in Indianapolis, Ind., we’re learning more about the power of local innovations.
Last September, City Connects launched in three Indianapolis schools, and we added two new features: a unique funding source and partnership with Marian University.
“I learned about City Connects years ago when I implemented this program in Springfield, Ohio, at a pre-K to 12 Catholic school system,” Dr. Ken Britt says. He is the Senior Vice President and Dean of Klipsch Educators College at Marian University. “I wanted to bring the program to Indiana because I believe that, coupled with our focus on teacher and leadership development, comprehensive student support can be a game-changer for young people. And there is no better program than City Connects.”
Frequently, school districts pay for City Connects using their own funds. Other districts have philanthropic partners who pay for some or all the costs. Indianapolis is unique because it’s the first district to use state funds.
While the blog is on summer vacation, we’re sharing past posts about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive.
This week’s roundup looks at staff members who are or have been part of City Connects, which is based at the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children in Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
Even as an undergraduate at Boston College, Maria Theodorakakis was looking for a way to combine her academic interests with hands-on work.
“I was looking for a major that really kind of combined my interest in psychology and sociology with my interest in helping kids and working in schools,” Theodorakakis recalls.
A conversation with the late John Cawthorne, a former Associate Dean in BC’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development, led her to transfer from the College of Arts and Sciences to the Lynch School – and that’s where she found City Connects.
Back in those days, in 2007, when City Connects was only in five Boston schools, Theodorakakis applied for and received a summer research fellowship, joining the City Connects team.
Often City Connects grows because of, well, connections. That’s what happened when Una Shannon came from Ireland to Boston College to be a postdoctoral fellow. Shannon learned about City Connects and shared our work with Eugene Wall, the president of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, as well as sharing it with ministers from the Irish National Government.
The result: Irish educators are planning to launch a City Connects pilot program this fall in 10 Dublin schools.
“It strikes me that any ‘school person’ who hears about City Connects tends to have an ‘aha’ moment,” Shannon says. She’s a former teacher who earned her bachelor’s degree from Mary Immaculate College. “It just makes sense to support the whole child, to have a strengths-based perspective, and to have a systemic, systematic, and sustained approach to student support that’s in rhythm with school life.”
Sometimes a community partner provides fun, exercise, inspiration, confidence, and a chance to cheer for grown-ups. That’s the story of Girls on the Run Twin Cities, a nonprofit organization that teaches girls how to fulfill their potential, serve their communities, and run a 5K race.
As the school year draws to a close, City Connects Coordinators across the country are helping students prepare for summer, connecting them to services and opportunities that will help them succeed when school isn’t in session.
For Asha Quattrocchi, a City Connects Coordinator at the Cold Spring School in Indianapolis, Ind., this means sharing information and making connections.
It’s a new school year, so City Connects Coordinators are reinforcing existing relationships and building new ones.
At Catholic Central Elementary School, in Springfield, Ohio, where City Connects’ Coordinator Josh Richardt works, he tells students in pre-k through fifth grade, “I am so glad you’re in school today.”
There is also a sign hanging in the hallway that says, “You belong here.”
These messages weave students, especially new ones, firmly into the school’s fabric. And they build on a key finding from the developmental sciences: Relationships matter.