Anticipating students’ needs with Cradles to Crayons

One of City Connects’ longstanding community partners is Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit that collects new and nearly new clothes and distributes them to children in need. The organization has worked with City Connects for more than nine years.

In the fall of 2017, Cradles to Crayons reached out to City Connects and asked us to help out with a pilot program that they had in mind. Cradles to Crayons wanted to achieve a higher level of services by creating a new, seasonal delivery schedule for its KidsPacks – the bags full of clothes, coats, shoes, boots, books, and school supplies. The organization wanted to launch the program in City Connects schools, building on our existing relationship.

The pilot started at the beginning of this school year. In close coordination with our Coordinators, it serves more than 100 students across five Boston public schools. Students receive a back-to-school backpack with school supplies in September — and three more deliveries during the year containing clothing for fall, winter, and spring.

The goal of having these predictable deliveries is to create a system that’s better able to anticipate families’ needs and reach more students. Continue reading

Media coverage of City Connects

City Connects is in the news. An article in EdSurge and a brief in Education Dive tell stories of how we get the right services to the right child at the right time.

EdSurge’s article – “Meet the Support Network Addressing Out-Of-School Challenges for Every Student”focuses on Boston’s Medell Elementary School where a kindergartener was missing a lot of school. The child’s teacher reached out to Madeline Gillespie, the school’s City Connects Coordinator, and Gillespie took action.

As EdSurge explains:

“Gillespie spoke with the girl’s mother and learned they were living in a shelter and had no way to get to school. It was less than a mile away, so the family wouldn’t ordinarily qualify for free transportation. But shelters are a special exception—students are eligible to ride on a school bus. Equipped with this information, Gillespie helped set up regular pickups and drop offs, and just like that, attendance improved.” Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 2/11/19

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:

How City Connects works in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

The link between bullying and depression among preschool children.

An overview of all 50 states’ education policies.

Head Start improves in Jacksonville, Fla.

New Orleans works to cut student absenteeism.

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

Jordan Lawson brings the statistical and the personal to City Connects

Jordan Lawson thought he was going to be a clinical psychologist.

But after learning more about the field, he discovered psychometrics – and the idea of using statistics for social good.

“Statistics is interesting in and of itself, but sometimes, people, myself included, can lose sight of the fact that it’s just a tool that could be used for good,” Lawson says.

Now he’s at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development where he is a doctoral student in the Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment Department and a research associate who is helping to address one of City Connects’ data analysis challenges. Continue reading

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