Community Partners: City Connects and Big Brothers Big Sisters

To get the right services to the right child, City Connects relies on hundreds of community partners – from nonprofits and health centers to businesses and cultural organizations.

One of our longstanding community partners is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay.

Big Brothers provides mentors – or “Bigs” as the organization calls them – who serve as role models and friends for children (or “Littles”) in a one-on-one relationship.

The partnership between City Connects and Big Brothers strengthens this practice.

“We really work collaboratively,” Nora Leary explains. She’s Big Brothers’ Vice President for Program Services. “I think our goals are very similar: to help the kids in Boston Public Schools succeed, not just educationally, but also in all the other spheres of their life.” Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 7/10/17

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:

A study looks at the hidden financial costs of bullying.

U.S. Supreme Court cases on education.

How increasing social-emotional learning can boost graduation rates for students of color.

The Chicago Public Schools system has a new graduation requirement.

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

A City Connects summer

Now that it’s summer, children have said goodbye to their teachers and friends, but City Connects keeps kids covered because our coordinators connect them to summertime services.

These connections provide opportunities to play, grow, heal, work, and learn. For City Connects students in Boston, Mass., they include:

SummerWorks – a summer jobs program run by the nonprofit community organization ABCD

West End House Summer camp

The Steppingstone Foundation’s College Success Academy

Comfort Zone Bereavement Camp for grieving children

Little League Baseball Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 6/26/17

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 City Connects blog looks at how City Connects works inside community schools to help them get the right services to the right children at the right time.

The Educational Equity Index measures which cities do the best job of educating low-income students.

Members of Congress have a plan to boost federal spending on special education.

New Jersey, Illinois, and Louisiana are using ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) to help English-language-learners.

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

City Connects inside community schools

Community schools and City Connects are philosophically aligned programs — both help students thrive by meeting their comprehensive needs. The approaches are different but also complementary, and one of the places where they’re working well together is in nine New York City schools run by the Children’s Aid Society in Harlem, Staten Island, the South Bronx, and Washington Heights.

The Children’s Aid Society launched its community schools in 1992. These schools are “both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources,” the Coalition for Community Schools explains on its website. That might mean keeping a school open in the evenings to serve as a community center or bringing afterschool or health services into the school building.

City Connects dovetails with this work by providing a systematic way to connect these and other school- and community-resources to the right child at the right time, over time.

In the South Bronx, Ron Cope, a Children’s Aid Society Program Manager, works with City Connects staff members in four community schools. They say that City Connects’ model helps improve community school implementation in four key ways: Continue reading

New research on lowering high school dropout rates

To protect students from the risk of dropping out of high school, start by helping them when they are in elementary school.

That’s the finding of a new brief that updates earlier findings done by researchers at the Center for Optimized Student Support in Boston College’s Lynch School of Education.

The brief — “Reducing High School Dropout through Elementary School Student Support: An Analysis Including Important Student Subgroups” – explains:

“Students who attended elementary schools implementing City Connects beginning in kindergarten or first grade are less likely to drop out of school in high school than comparison students (those who never attended a City Connects school).” Continue reading

City Connects goes to college – in Ohio

We know City Connects works in elementary schools where our coordinators are in the school buildings working closely with students, families, teachers, and administrators. And we’ve adapted the City Connects model to work in high schools, where students are older and have more latitude to decide what they will and won’t participate in.

But five years ago the Mathile Family Foundation asked a pointed question: How could City Connects be adapted to work in a community college setting?

The challenges were obvious: elementary and high schools provide immediate, all-day access to students and teachers. And parents often come to school. But in colleges, students are independent adults. And their presence on campus can be fleeting. In addition, City Connects would have to adapt its model to meet the needs of these “adults” — many of whom are often still teenagers.

We decided to give it a try. Continue reading

Finding mental health care providers for children

Chittick Elementary SchoolMost of the time, City Connects coordinators find the resources needed for each of their schools’ students. But sometimes, even in cities that are teeming with programs, agencies, and services, coordinators cannot find the resources that would best serve a particular child.

One such challenge that coordinators routinely face is finding enough mental health counselors for children who need them. Approximately, 13-20 percent of children have a mental health diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention..

It’s a problem that the Boston Globe covered in a recent article.

“Harvard researchers posing as the parent of a depressed 12-year-old called hundreds of child psychiatrists and pediatricians looking for appointments, and discovered what many actual parents know through bitter experience: Most of the time the calls were fruitless. Continue reading