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.
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.Continue reading →
“We’ve been talking a lot about how our parent council is great, but not reflective of our school population,” Danielle Morrissey says. She’s the City Connects Coordinator at the Thomas J. Kenny elementary school in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.
“We were trying to strategize around how to bring in other families that aren’t involved in parent council — and about what the barriers might be, and language came up a lot.”
Language diversity is part of the fabric at the Kenny, where 35 percent of the school’s population speaks a language other than English. So Emily Bryan, the school’s principal, decided to reach out to more families by holding coffee hours in different languages. Morrissey helped organize and facilitate them.Continue reading →
City Connects makes connections. We connect students and their families to tailored sets of resources. We connect schools to an array of community partners. And we connect what we are learning about integrating school and community resources to larger, national conversations.
Our work is a leading example of how schools can help students overcome hardships by providing “integrated student support” that weaves services and enrichments into the fabric of schools.
City Connects works with community partners to provide a wide array of services. Often this means helping students get necessities such as dental careor beds. But sometimes our community partners also provide inspiring role models.
That’s the case withStrong Women, Strong Girls, a nonprofit organization based in Boston and Pittsburgh. The organization provides school girls with college-age mentors, and the mentors can themselves be mentored by career women.
The college mentors visit the schools once a week to meet with a group of girls.
“Each mentoring session, we highlight one strong woman,” Madison Banker explains. Banker is a college mentor, part of a group of students from Northeastern University who meet with Boston students. Mentors come from a number of colleges including Tufts University, Harvard University, Boston College, and Simmons College Continue reading →
School climate ismaking headlines – and peaking the interest of researchers and policymakers. So earlier this month, we caught up with Anastasia Raczek and asked her to explain what school climate is and how it relates to City Connects’ work.
“School climate means lots of different things to different people. But we’re beginning to get more specific about it, and we do know a lot about what it seems to lead to,” Raczek said. As the Associate Director of Evaluation & Research, she helps lead an independent team that works to evaluate and improve City Connects. The team is based in the Center for Optimized Student Support, part of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education.
In December, Raczek spoke at an event on school climate that was organized by the Rennie Center and co-hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MassINC, Boston University, and Boston College. Conference participants discussed the connection between school climate and student success. A related policy brief is posted here. Continue reading →
We know that many first-generation immigrant children who are new to the country face challenges, Dearing explained during the webinar, which was hosted by the Foundation for Child Development. Poverty presents “multi-pronged risks for immigrant children at nearly every level of context in which their lives are embedded.. whether we’re talking about neighborhoods or the schools or the families or the homes in which they are living.” Many of these students can also struggle in school because they are also English Language Learners. Continue reading →
We are happy to announce thatResults for America, a national nonprofit, has added Mary Walsh and City Connects to its Moneyball for Government Team, a list of leaders and organizations that are using data to solve problems.
Sports fans know that “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” is a book by Michael Lewis. It tells the stories of how the Oakland A’s, a baseball team with a limited budget, gave up on conventional wisdom and started using a statistical approach to evaluate and recruit players. Data, in other words, helped the A’s become a better team and win games.
In the same vein, Results for America uses its “Moneyball for Government” designation to encourage “governments at all levels to increase their use of evidence and data when investing limited taxpayer dollars. By playing Moneyball, we can improve outcomes for young people, their families and communities.”Continue reading →