Leaping over language barriers at the Kenny School

“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

Meeting life’s toughest challenges with a network of support

Elise Bradley at Shaw Elementary School

In the high-poverty communities we serve, many of our students experience challenges and traumas, which is why our support of their healthy development takes many forms.

It’s a joint effort that unites school staff, City Connects coordinators, families, and community partners, so that every child gets a network of support tailored to meet their needs.

Part of the role of our coordinators is to use their training as social workers or school counselors to discern who could benefit from more opportunities to build social-emotional skills and relationships to better manage their emotions, and who could benefit from more intensive mental health services to help them be ready to learn.

Once coordinators make this determination, they spring into action. They do regular check-ins with students and families going through tough times. They find community partners who can provide mental health services, including one-on-one counseling. They run social skills groups. And they support teachers and other school staff find productive ways to talk about and address students’ struggles. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/19/18

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:

Tacoma, Wash., schools focus on social-emotional learning.

Amid student protests, the U.S. House of Representatives passes a school safety bill.

Florida will give bullied public school students a voucher so that they can attend private schools.

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

Watch this


We’re proud to share one of our videos on how City Connects works. Principals, community partners, and City Connects staff all help tell the story of meeting students nonacademic needs to help them thrive in school.

“We’ve been able to transition from a school in crisis to a stable school focusing on literacy thanks to the support from City Connects.”
– Mike Sabin, Former Principal, the John W. McCormack Middle School in Boston

“Just in the last two months, we provided a new pair of shoes to each of our children and a new winter coat. For impoverished families, it’s a big deal.”
– Robert Kordenbrock, Red Oak After School Program, Boston-Chinatown Neighborhood Center 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

Helping homeless students

In Boston – and in all the communities we serve — some of the most vulnerable students are homeless. These children may be doubled up with relatives or living in shelters or hotels. They may be hungry or struggling with asthma. They may need coats or shoes.

“The goal is to make sure basic needs are met,” Joe King says, including food, clothes and transportation, “so that Children can stay in school.” King, a City Connects program manager, supervises the school-based coordinators who work directly with children and families.

The need is substantial. Boston Public Schools’ officials estimate that they educate some 3,000 homeless students.

“The difficult part can be identifying which families are homeless,” King notes, because some families don’t share their housing status. “So, a lot of the work is relationship-building so families feel comfortable saying that they’re displaced.” Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/17/17

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:

New America has released a paper on how states can use the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support early learning.

Research released by economists found that after low-income college students graduate, they earn wages that are similar to those of their higher-income peers.

Obese teens’ chances of having high blood pressure vary by race.

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