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

The Weekly Connect 10/16/17

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:

The use of kindergarten assessments offers mixed results.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos shares her vision for “American education.”

A study of New York City’s Community Schools.

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

Building a Safe and Supportive Community at Boston’s Edison School

“We represent over 40 different countries and over the past two years, I have run the annual multicultural event, which has been a cool thing at the end of the year to celebrate diversity in our school,” Shelby Riley explained in a recent interview.

Riley is the one of the City Connects site coordinators in Boston’s Thomas Edison K-8 School, where nearly 60 percent of the Edison’s students come from disadvantaged homes, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and 49 percent are English Language Learners.

“With all that’s going on in our world, our families are very much affected by it,” Riley adds. “We had a lot of kids in fear of being deported.”

After brainstorming with Edison’s principal, Samantha Varano, Riley worked with a team of teachers to organize a multicultural event. It was based on a similar event done by one of the Edison’s community partners, EF (Education First).

Rather than feeding into fear, “we wanted to do more of the positive, the celebrating, and letting kids be proud.” Continue reading

Understanding Why City Connects Works

City Connects

We’ve known that students who participate in City Connects during elementary school do well on middle school assessments of academic achievement. However, we know less about why that’s true.

What leads to the academic gains that City Connects provides?

New research is shedding light on this question by looking at the impact of three things: how elementary school academic skills, elementary school thriving skills, and the amount of time spent in City Connects affect academic achievement.

These research findings will be presented tomorrow at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness.

One of the research papers that will be presented asks whether an additional year of City Connects boosts students’ academic outcomes. This paper will be presented by Diego Luna Bazaldua, a post-doctoral researcher who is part of an independent evaluation team of faculty and researchers within the Center for Optimized Student Support at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education.

Luna Bazaldua says this research is “as close as you can get to a real experiment.” That’s important since researchers haven’t run randomized trials on City Connects because we deliver the intervention to every child in a school. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 12/12/16

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:

The United States Department of Education has released: ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) regulations on testing as well as guidelines for students who are leaving the juvenile justice system

While homelessness is making it tough for children to attend school, the achievement gap between rich and poor students is closing.

 And as technology becomes a larger part of schoolwork, educators are warning that the “blue light” cast by mobile devices can threaten students’ sleep.

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

The Power of Whole Class Reviews

City Connects

It’s a Thursday morning at the John Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester and Jaymie Silverman is multitasking. She’s on the phone, and she’s talking to a parent who just came in, checking in with a student, and preparing for an upcoming meeting. As the school’s City Connects Coordinator, Silverman is responsible for connecting all of the school’s 330 students to the tailored services they need to be successful inside and outside of school.

“We were identified as a school in which 60-90 percent of our students live in neighborhoods with exceptionally high levels of poverty and crime,” she explains.

Indeed, in 2013, Winthrop was declared a Level 4 school, the state’s designation for schools that are struggling based on “an analysis of four-year trends in absolute achievement, student growth, and academic improvement trends.” Continue reading