City Connects runs on relationships

Will Osier

In education, relationships matter.

As Professor James Comer of Yale University’s Child Study Center said during a 1995 lecture, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”

That’s why City Connects Coordinators are so important. They get to know their schools, and they build relationships that help students learn, and that help families thrive. From the whole class reviews to casual chats in the hallway, coordinators are always connecting.

They get to know every child and work together with teachers and other school staff to gather the knowledge of those who know the student best.

As Jaymie Silverman, the coordinator at the John Winthrop Elementary School in Boston explains: “Relationship building is the foundation of all of this work.” Continue reading

A national conversation on integrated student support

Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-Seattle) and Representative Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis)

In schools across the country, students face barriers that make it tough for them to thrive in school, to do well academically, socially, and emotionally. One student could be hungry. Another might need a winter coat. A third may have witnessed violence on the street or at home. A fourth might need a tutor. A fifth might be struggling to learn English.

The list goes on, and no one school can meet all these needs on its own.

Mary Walsh

“We need a comprehensive approach,” Mary Walsh said at this month’s conference “Building Systems for Student Success: When Academics are Not Enough,” the first national conversation about the cutting edge science, practice, and policy of providing integrated student support.

Walsh is the Director of the Center for Optimized Student Support, (COSS) part of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, which co-hosted the conference with the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. The COSS also houses City Connects.

That comprehensive approach, Walsh explained, means meeting the needs of the whole child by providing integrated student support, which COSS defines as “a comprehensive, coordinated and school-based effort to connect students to specific district supports, enrichments and services.” Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 11/12/18

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Teachers are grappling with how the opioid crisis impacts students.

The U.S. Department of Education has published a new report on rural education.

Nearly 30 percent of teachers are chronically absent.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 10/8/18

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Students who attend City Connects elementary schools have lower high school dropout rates than students who do not.

The Trump administration invests $71.5 billion in the U.S. Department of Education.

Trauma-informed schools and clinics help students cope with disasters and toxic stress.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

Study reveals that City Connects leads to a lower high school dropout rate

High school dropout rate comparison


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.

Boston College researchers released this finding last year and discussed it in a policy brief. Now, it’s being acknowledged by AERA, the American Education Research Association, which has an extremely rigorous review process.

“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

City Connects & August Scholars give students a summertime academic boost

“It used to take a whole lot of work on our end,” Justin Hajj says of finding the right students for August Scholars, a three-week summer program that combines academics, enrichment, and a personal approach that makes it easy for kids to achieve meaningful success.

The program is designed for children who can benefit from summertime academic support to avoid summer learning loss. In the morning, students focus on school work. Afternoons are devoted to fun: art, technology, and in recent years a drumming program. To measure impact, the program does pre- and post-program testing.

To recruit kids, August Scholars staff would visit schools and encourage parents to follow up. They would explain that the program was free. But often, that wasn’t enough, Hajj adds. He’s the Upper Division Head & Director of Advancement at The Learning Project Elementary School where August scholars is based. Continue reading

City Connects and Rosie’s Place: forging new ways to reach families

City Connects works hard to get the right service to the right child at the right time — and we also help our community partners make new models of service delivery successful.

One example is the highly respected, Boston-based organization Rosie’s Place.

Back in 1974, when Rosie’s Place opened its doors, it was the first women-only shelter in the United States. Rosie’s provided beds, compassion, and assistance to women who came through its doors.

Today, Rosie’s strategy has grown to include citywide outreach. Thanks to the Rosie’s Place Community Collaborative, Rosie’s staffers work everywhere. They go to homes and work in courthouses and at the Franklin Field public housing development in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Continue reading

City Connects’ Community Partner Breakfast

“Finally, finally, finally, the whole child is back on the agenda and that’s very, very exciting for all of us in this room,” Mary Walsh said last week at City Connects’ annual Community Partner Breakfast.

Educators and community leaders attended the breakfast, which was held at Suffolk University Law School. The theme was “Supporting the Whole Child.”

The keynote speaker was Liz Walker, a former television news anchor and currently the Senior Pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church. She was followed by a panel discussion that featured four school and community partners who work with City Connects.

For Walsh, the breakfast was a chance to rally the troops – the teachers, the City Connects coordinators, and the community partners who provide an array of services — and explain how their work is helping Boston’s students. Continue reading