A teacher talks about City Connects

Julie Roberts and her students

Fifth grade teacher Julie Roberts has worked at Catholic Central Elementary School in Springfield, Ohio, for more than 20 years. We recently asked her about how City Connects works in her school. Here’s what she said.

What’s it like to work with Josh Richardt, her school’s City Connects Coordinator? 

“To have someone who can reach out to find resources for kids who need extra help or enrichment opportunities is extremely helpful, because that’s not something that as teachers we’re used to doing very often.” 

Enrichment is important because, “It can really help a student bloom if they find something that they’re good at that they haven’t been exposed to before.” 

How has the process of doing whole class reviews been? 

“At first, before we actually did the whole class review, I thought oh my gosh, how am I going to spend all morning on each student? But getting to talk about each student really opened my eyes to things I might not have been aware of, like personal or family challenges. Continue reading

Relationships matter in City Connects schools

It’s a new school year, so City Connects Coordinators are reinforcing existing relationships and building new ones. 

At Catholic Central Elementary School, in Springfield, Ohio, where City Connects’ Coordinator Josh Richardt works, he tells students in pre-k through fifth grade, “I am so glad you’re in school today.”

There is also a sign hanging in the hallway that says, “You belong here.” 

These messages weave students, especially new ones, firmly into the school’s fabric. And they build on a key finding from the developmental sciences: Relationships matter. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 6/17/19

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:

State leaders in Ohio see City Connects as a model that could be expanded.

A simple change to address absenteeism.

Holding parents accountable for their children’s bullying.

In the United States, 3 million students do not have Internet service at home.

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Weekly Connect 5/27/19

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:

Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted visits a City Connects program in Dayton.

Educators and policymakers should pay more attention to how toxic stress affects students. 

Across the country, governors have called for investing nearly $3 billion in early childhood education.

States and school districts are helping increasing numbers of homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Ohio’s lieutenant governor visits a City Connects program – and calls on his state to invest in students’ success


It’s budget season in Ohio, and last week, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and other state officials, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, visited Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton to see City Connects in action.

Husted is encouraging his state to increase its investment in students’ success.

“We believe that this is a replicable model that can be used in public schools and other schools across the state,” Husted tells WHIO Television. “And we want the new money that’s being put into the budget to serve these students to go to programs like this.”

“The visit comes as legislators are considering a new $550 million allocation in the state budget to provide similar ‘wraparound services’ to Ohio schools,” the Dayton Daily News reports. “That budget has already passed the Ohio House, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted advocated for the plan Friday.” Continue reading

A City Connects Coordinator manages the joys and demands of winter

Winter arrives in Minneapolis carrying two sacks. In one is the bright hustle and bustle of the holiday season. In the other are the frigid cold temperatures that threaten vulnerable families.

At Risen Christ Elementary School, where 98 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, City Connects Coordinator Lindsay O’Keefe and a group of local community partners are prepared to deal with all aspects of winter. This is essential, because, as O’Keefe explains, “Minnesota is really cold. We don’t have snow days. We have cold days where they cancel school because it is so dangerous to have the kids outside waiting for the bus because the wind chills are so cold.”

To boost the fun part of winter, O’Keefe spreads the magic of the holiday season by working with a colleague from Catholic Charities to connect families to a Christmas gift program run by Sponsor a Family MN, a local nonprofit.

“Every single family in our school can sign up for three Christmas gifts for every member of the family that lives in the house. The adults and the kids get three gifts.” Often, families ask for winter coats and boots. Continue reading

Community partnerships that spark innovative new programs

For City Connects Coordinators sharing their schools’ needs with community partners makes it much easier for those partners to offer new services and programs for children.

One example is Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis where there isn’t enough funding to run a summer school program. There is, however, a high demand for summer enrichment programs. These programs are important because Risen Christ is the only dual-language immersion Catholic school in Minnesota, and many of its students are learning English as a second language. As a result, many students need literacy and language support in both English and Spanish.

That’s why when summer comes, the school’s City Connects Coordinator, Lindsay O’Keefe, works with families to send students to Urban Ventures, a local nonprofit that supports kids from the cradle to college. Because the summer program is free and runs all day and all week, covering math, English, and science, as well as providing meals and field trips, it’s extremely popular. Continue reading

What we are thankful for at City Connects


As we reflect on 2018, City Connects has a lot to be thankful for. Together, our dedicated coordinators, community partners, school leaders, and City Connects staff provide students with the resources and relationships necessary to overcome barriers and thrive.

We are grateful for City Connects Coordinators who go above and beyond every day to create safe and supportive school environments for all students.

Earlier this month, C.J. McGowan, the coordinator at Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis, facilitated a school wide anti-bullying initiative. C.J. collaborated with teachers and other school staff to develop creative anti-bullying lessons and activities, which allowed students from kindergarten to eighth grade to offer their opinions on how to stop and prevent bullying. The end result? An ongoing and open conversation with all students on why no one deserves to be mistreated. Continue reading