How City Connects Coordinators are working through the pandemic

Whether their schools are open for in-person learning or open for virtual learning, City Connects Coordinators are working to get the right services to the right child at the right time. 

In their hands, the core City Connects model remains the same, but it is being delivered in increasingly creative and flexible ways. 

One example is Zuleika Andrade, who started working as a coordinator in January. 

“Then,” she says, “Covid happened.” 

So Andrade and her school — Mission Grammar School, a Catholic school in Boston’s Roxbury community – pivoted from in-person to online education. Andrade worked with students virtually running lunch-bunch and snack groups, providing individualized support to students, and helping families navigate access to resources. 

“I was calling families and checking in to see what parents needed now that school was closed, because school provides so much, not just education, but meals, child care, social-emotional connections.”

Last month, the school reopened for in-person instruction with a new, safety-conscious look: in addition to new classrooms, a new lab, and a new ventilation system, there are signs with reminders of where to stand to be socially distant. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 10/13/20

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

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

U.S. Department of Education data reveals that Black girls are disciplined more often than their white peers.

Boston delays the next phase of in-person learning because of rising coronavirus infections.

Some students who struggled in school are successful with remote learning.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 9/14/20

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

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

An analysis of 375 school districts finds that rural communities are more likely to offer in-person learning opportunities this fall.

Because of COVID-19’s economic impact, public pre-K programs could face steep budget cuts.

Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that as schools struggle to provide free and reduced-price meals, students are going hungry.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading

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