The Weekly Connect 1/19/21

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:

A study finds that weekend food programs — that send students home with backpacks of food –address hunger and improve academic performance.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to address education challenges caused by the pandemic.

Given the rise in failing grades during the pandemic, some Michigan schools are considering ways to revamp their approach to assignments and grading.

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Weekly Connect 12/21/20

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:

In-school tutoring programs could slow students’ COVID-19 learning loss.

Massachusetts educators and staff in the cue to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Teachers learn to provide trauma-informed care for undocumented students.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Coordinating for the holidays

As this difficult pandemic year ends, City Connects Coordinators are making many lists and checking them twice to ensure that families have what they need to get through the holiday season.

Across the country, coordinators are making sure that children have access to the practical, educational, and even magical resources they need to have happy holidays and a successful new year. These include: 

• coats, food stamps, rental assistance, and help for newly arrived immigrants

• tutors, bus passes, and an in-school paraprofessional to support a child with disabilities

• holiday meals and gifts as well as two Trees for Tots Christmas trees — one Minion-themed, and one book-themed – being decorated by City Connects Coordinator Gabrielle West and her colleagues at Catholic Central’s elementary school in Springfield, Ohio. The trees are being donated to two families in need. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 12/14/20

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:

Mental health support for teachers is a top priority in Colorado and other states.

California parents sue, claiming remote learning programs are inequitable.

An elementary school in Zillah, Wash., wins recognition for closing achievement gaps.

To read more, click on the following links.

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10 things we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic (so far)


1. City Connects’ system of integrated student support, which is
delivered by skilled coordinators, allows schools and districts to be resilient in the face of crisis — even a global one.

2. The core practices of City Connects — the whole class reviews, individual student reviews, and personalized support — can work virtually.

3. By moving our model online, “We got to know families better,” City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh says. “When we were in schools it could be hard to schedule meetings with working parents. But online, “we got to see families at home and get more of a sense of their challenges.”

4. Having a record of every child — thanks to our data system — meant that once the pandemic hit, we could quickly reach out to every student. We knew who our most vulnerable families were, so we could re-establish connections with community-based providers like telehealth services and afterschool programs. And we had a system in place to respond to rapidly changing family needs. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 12/7/20

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:

City Connects shows how schools can systematically help students during the pandemic.

Students are falling behind in math.

Schools are working hard to provide meals for students.

Teaching mindfulness skills to help students cope.

To read more, click on the following links.

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National momentum to support the whole child

At City Connects, we have learned that a combination of supports and opportunities is needed to change children’s lives. And we have an evidence base that shows our model helps students succeed.

Now, our organization is playing a supporting role as part of a national movement for change that is focused on the whole child. Along with partners and coalitions, we are working to grow this movement into a campaign of action that could transform education by improving students’ access to comprehensive services.

This month, for example, we joined over 350 organizations and individuals in support of a White House Office on Children and Youth, which would be dedicated to improving the coordination of federal programs, bringing sustained attention to research and policy, and elevating the wellbeing of children, youth, and their families. We are also engaged in partnerships, coalitions, commissions, and advisory boards. Our goal is to contribute to the momentum for change and share what we are learning: both our knowledge about effective approaches to integrated student support or “wraparound” services, and our evidence that when implemented well, support that addresses the needs of the whole child can transform students’ lives.

City Connects is also part of an advisory group to the Sciences of Learning and Development alliance (SoLD), which uses “insights from the sciences of learning and development…to serve as a resource to connect and support leaders in research, practice, and policy to transform America’s education systems and achieve equity and excellence.” Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving!


This holiday season, we are exceptionally grateful for all the work our City Connects staff, schools, and community partners are doing to help families.

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As the country battles the pandemic, and many communities face scarce resources and dimmed charitable giving, City Connects Coordinators are still helping families find the ingredients for holiday happiness. 

In Salem, Mass., City Connects Program Manager Ellen Wingard is using a spreadsheet to track the 225 turkeys — donated by local community partner It Starts with ME!

This year, instead of having schools deliver the turkeys, Wingard and her team have collected the names of families in need and set up a central pick-up site where families can get the turkeys as well as additional food from The Salem Pantry and meals from Salem Public Schools.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” Wingard says. “And for families whom we haven’t identified, who still need turkeys, we’ll connect them to the Salvation Army. Many of our restaurants are also doing meals, and so we’re trying to communicate that as broadly as we can.”

The secret to holiday — and year-round — success?  Continue reading