Our statement on COVID-19

Mary E. Walsh
Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects

Because the students and families we serve will be especially hard hit by the educational, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for strong and effective approaches to student support has never been greater. To help meet this need, the Boston College Center for Optimized Student Support will continue to bring you information and best practices relevant to effectively serving children and families before, during, and after this crisis. The Center’s flagship program, City Connects, is continuing its commitment to provide high-quality, evidence-driven student support in this challenging time.

As schools across the country shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, City Connects Coordinators are responding to the needs of students and families impacted by this ever-changing crisis. 

“Many families of the students in our City Connects schools will be especially vulnerable to the worst effects of this crisis,” said Mary Walsh, our Executive Director. “For families whom we serve, this pandemic means unexpected unemployment, heightened food insecurity, lack of child care, and sudden loss of stability provided by the everyday routine of school.”

City Connects Coordinators have been hard at work preparing for school closures. Across all our sites, the most immediate and critical need is food for families and children who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs. Every city in which we work has found different ways to address food provision for students. In Dayton, Ohio, for example, coordinators are helping with a drive-by pick up service at school so families can easily obtain packages of food. In Minneapolis, City Connects Program Manager Laurie Acker and her team have helped coordinate regular delivery of boxes containing food to bus stops. They are also letting students and families know which restaurants in the Minneapolis area are offering free food for those affected by school or business closures. Continue reading

Dreaming bigger with City Connects

Josiah Quincy School students


“We love mentoring,” City Connects Coordinator Will Osier of Boston’s Josiah Quincy School says. 

That’s why every week on Wednesdays, 20 girls from the Quincy School in grades eight through 11 go into the heart of downtown Boston and meet with mentors at the online furniture and home goods company Wayfair.

City Connects works in the Quincy Upper school serving students in grades 6-12. In the upper grades, the City Connects model helps older children dream big. And just as they do in elementary schools, Osier and other coordinators working with older students provide individualized services and opportunities that meet students’ strengths and address their needs. Coordinators engage students in designing personalized plans and connect them to resources, relationships, and opportunities that can boost their college and career aspirations.

The Wayfair mentorship program is one good example. It was launched last month by one of the Quincy School’s community partners, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 1/21/20

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:

Middle school coaches can help curb dating violence.

San Francisco parents declare state of emergency over failure to educate black children.

Memphis shifts to universal screening for its gifted program — instead of relying on teacher recommendations — and finds that more students qualify.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading

City Connects students win a Sole Train running award

City Connects Coordinator Ashlei Alvarez does not enjoy running. When she was in school, she was the cross-country runner who hid in the bathroom. 

But every Friday morning, Alvarez goes running around the Boston Common with 30 fourth- and fifth-graders, two parents, and a number of staff members from the Josiah Quincy School where Alvarez works.

Why? 

“My first year here I noticed that we didn’t have a lot of extracurricular, sports-based programs,” Alvarez says. So when a teacher at her school told her about Sole Train: Boston Runs Together, a running program “that’s about deconstructing the impossible,” Alvarez and Kelly Garcelon, a kindergarten teacher who does like running, brought the program into their school. 

Alvarez expected five students to sign up. Instead, 30 did. “We were shocked,” Alvarez says. Continue reading

City Connects students pay a visit to Boston College

Recently, Danielle Morrissey, the City Connects Coordinator at Boston’s Thomas J. Kenny elementary school, brought the Kenny’s fifth graders to visit Boston College so that they could see what college is all about. 

“The goal was to motivate and provide a learning opportunity for the students to further understand why we are talking so much about Perseverance, Responsibility, Integrity, Dedication to your Education, and Effort (our PRIDE values) and how their future is connected to these values,” Morrissey says.  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 6/24/19

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:

New research suggests that some teachers improve students’ attendance.

Boston’s School Committee votes to eliminate middle schools.

The suicide rate among adolescents is at its highest point since 2000.

Michigan’s teachers are not as diverse as the state’s students.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/15/19

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:

New principals can boost student achievement.

Therapy dogs go to school.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh pledges to invest $15 million in pre-K programs.

School teachers talk about how they are meeting the needs of migrant children.

To read more, click on the following links. 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