From the archives: our community partners

While the blog is on summer vacation, we’re sharing past posts and social media coverage about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive. 

This week’s roundup looks at how City Connects works with community partners around the country to bring the right services to the right students at the right time. 

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City Connects and Catie’s Closet: working with a community partner that’s just down the hall
City Connects Blog, January 24, 2019

Last school year, Lincoln Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., had a custodian’s closet that was nothing special.

This year that space has been transformed – painted, carpeted and decorated – and turned into Catie’s Closet, a cheerful place where students can get donated clothes and toiletries.

Continue reading “From the archives: our community partners”

A book drive thrives, thanks to a community partnership

Before COVID-19, the MassMutual Federal Credit Union used to hold its book drives the old-fashioned way: put a big box in the hallway outside the credit union’s office to collect new and gently used children’s books from the 6,000 or so people who passed by each day.

The approach worked in part because the credit union’s office had a highly visible location right next to the cafeteria. The results were mostly good, lots of books for young children that were passed on to City Connects Coordinators in the Springfield Public School system — and a few very old dictionaries that could serve as doorstops.

Once Covid hit, however, Samantha Barnes, the credit union’s Marketing Specialist, had to adapt and so did City Connects Coordinator, Stephanie Sanabria. What they ended up with was a better book drive that more closely meets the needs of students and schools.

Continue reading “A book drive thrives, thanks to a community partnership”

City Connects in the news

City Connects Coordinators have been working harder than ever to meet the needs of students, families, and communities. 

Here’s a roundup of news stories that share some of the work coordinators are doing.

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In Salem, Mass., a fire that damaged five buildings prompted a community-wide response that includes city officials, local charities, and City Connects Coordinators. 

“Our thoughts are with our Salem school families who were impacted by yesterday’s fire on Hancock Street,” Salem’s School Superintendent Stephen Zrike said in a news release

“Salem Public Schools’ City Connects Coordinators, Family Engagement Facilitators, and school leaders are working with identified staff and families who may have been impacted. If you have questions or have been impacted by the fire, please contact your school to be connected with those who can assist.”

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In Indianapolis, Ind., Mayor Joe Hogsett is addressing the city’s mental health challenges. In March, he pledged to “implement a clinician-led mobile crisis team to respond to calls for help involving mental health situations in Indiana’s capital city,” the Indianapolis Star reports, adding that another part of the city’s efforts to address mental health is City Connects, which “lets the city work with school children and their families on mental health-related issues.”

 And as Indianapolis and other City Connects sites show, the supportive work that coordinators do inside schools integrates with and enhances community wide efforts.

Continue reading “City Connects in the news”

Recognizing school counselors and City Connects Coordinators

Being a school counselor can be challenging in a normal year. But this work can be grueling in the middle of a pandemic that has triggered a national mental health crisis among children and adolescents.

 So we’re happy that National School Counseling Week, which was last week, brought both recognition and appreciation to school counselors – and to City Connects Coordinators.

As the pandemic continues, counselors are working with struggling students and providing support for burned out teachers and school staff. At City Connects schools, our coordinators are a vital source of this support. Although the pandemic has been tough, our coordinators have been tougher – and more compassionate, creative, and determined than ever.

Coordinators are addressing the isolation the pandemic has caused, while monitoring the racial trauma some students feel since the murder of George Floyd. 

So it was great to see Laurie Roule, the City Connects coordinator at STEM Middle Academy of Springfield, Mass., being acknowledged by her school.

Continue reading “Recognizing school counselors and City Connects Coordinators”

Powerful community partnerships: The MassMutual Foundation

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, it’s a new year that’s full of promise; and here at City Connects, we are excited about what’s next. 

We’re growing in Indianapolis and in Massachusetts. We have a new technical assistance center based at Marian University in the Midwest, so that we can work with more schools in that part of the country. We’re hiring new staff, and we’re seeing how the City Connects model is effective, resilient, and making a difference for children, families, teachers, schools, and communities, especially during the pandemic. 

We couldn’t do this work alone, which is why we’re so grateful to our many community partners, the nonprofit organizations and businesses that work with us to support students. 

One example is the MassMutual Foundation. 

Continue reading “Powerful community partnerships: The MassMutual Foundation”

The Weekly Connect 10/12/21

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:

Springfield Public Schools is using a second $1 million grant from the MassMutual Foundation to continue implementing City Connects.

Head Start study reveals gains for virtual learners

California imposes country’s first K-12 vaccine mandate, which could go into effect in January.

An Arkansas school district opens a food pantry that provides food as well as school supplies, health and hygiene items, and essential clothing. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 10/12/21”

Noman Khanani talks about data — and transforming education

Noman Khanani Noman Khanani never expected to work in educational data analytics. But this spring he’s part of the research team that dives deep into City Connects’ data, and he’s sharing some of the results at national conferences. 

“I had always been interested in data,” he recalls. “When I was younger, I always enjoyed math and statistics, but I never really thought of pursuing this as a career. It was just something I was good at in the classroom.” 

Khanani enrolled in graduate school at Boston University’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies master’s degree program. He thought he would go on to work in administration. 

Then he got a job as a research assistant. 

“That was my first exposure to education research and the use of quantitative analytics and statistics to measure student learning and understand the impact of programs and interventions. This work combined my interests in statistics with working for social good.”  Continue reading “Noman Khanani talks about data — and transforming education”

Job satisfaction for City Connects Coordinators – a research study


What’s it like for City Connects Coordinators who work in high-poverty communities and help students succeed?

A new research study – “Experiences of practitioners implementing comprehensive student support in high-poverty schools,” published in the journal Improving Schools –provides interesting answers, pointing to both job satisfaction and systemic barriers. 

The study was written by Amy Heberle, a psychology professor at Clark University and a former City Connects research fellow; Úna Ní Sheanáin, a former post-doctoral fellow who worked with City Connects; Mary Walsh, City Connects’ Executive Director and a professor at Boston College; and by City Connects graduate assistants Anna Hamilton and Agnes Chung, and former City Connects Coordinator Victoria Eells Lutas. 

We know that the work of supporting students can be emotionally demanding. As Walsh and Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick have written in CommonWealth Magazine: 

“When children walk into their schools, they make everyone feel what they feel. Teachers, principals, even superintendents can all feel the burdens students carry, especially those who struggle with poverty and despair. Some children talk about their challenges. Others don’t. Either way, educators and administrators feel the weight of the hunger, homelessness, mental health challenges, incarceration of parents, and other hardships that many children bear. We have to feel it, because being connected to children is the only way that we can successfully do our jobs.”  Continue reading “Job satisfaction for City Connects Coordinators – a research study”

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