Happy Holidays! Reflecting on 2014 & what’s ahead in 2015

As 2014 draws to a close, we extend our sincere wishes for a happy holiday! Looking back at 2014, we have many things to celebrate and have collected some highlights to share as 2015 approaches.

The impact of City Connects depends in large part on the many exceptional school, community, and philanthropic partners with whom we are honored to work. Together, we ensure that children receive the tailored services and enrichment opportunities they need to be able to learn and thrive in school.

Over the past year, these partnerships have supported our expansion. We’re currently providing optimized student support to 20,000 students in 62 sites across 3 states!

National Network Growth: 2014-15

This fall, City Connects launched in several new sites across New York City, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

Research & Publications

The City Connects Evaluation Team, based at Boston College, has had a busy year. The most exciting development was the publication of a paper featuring some of our early findings in the the highly-regarded American Educational Research Journal. Several additional publications were released this year, including:

In 2015, with support from the I. A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation, the Evaluation Team will be examining long-term City Connects student outcomes and taking a deeper dive into teachers’ perceptions of City Connects.

City Connects in the News

City Connects was featured in several news outlets this year, including:

  • huff post eduDeserving of Celebration: Public Education Done Right
    July 3, 2014: “As we celebrate America’s independence … let’s also celebrate examples of comprehensive approaches to education that are doing it right and seeing great results. In Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American revolution, City Connects celebrates its fifteenth year of providing comprehensive supports to students by leveraging community assets and connecting them to each students’ unique needs.”
  • Impacting Academic Achievement through Student Supportascd whole child
    June 24, 2014: “Our longitudinal research demonstrates that for children who attended City Connects schools in grades K–5, the beneficial effects continue into middle and high school. We can definitively say that the City Connects system of student support makes a positive and long-term difference in the lives of children.”
  • Education Week LogoLearning Payoff Found for City Connects Program
    September 30, 2014: “City Connects helps schools organize and align services for students, including the ‘great middle’-students who are neither excelling enough to be tapped for gifted programs nor struggling enough to be identified for special education.”
  • Helping students with needs that extend outside the classroom
    November 24, 2014: “City Connects is based on the simple idea that a child distracted by pain, fear, or deprivation can’t possibly do as well in school as a child without those challenges. So City Connects tries to resolve as many of those issues as possible.”

We wish you the very best in 2015!

City Connects Year in Review: Boston

This week on the blog we’ll be looking at the year in review across our 45 sites in three geographic areas: Boston (public and Catholic schools), Springfield (MA), and Ohio.

City Connects is currently implemented in 17 Boston Public Schools, our original site. Here are some BPS highlights:

  • For the 2012-12 school year, City Connects partnered with its first in-district charter school, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School, and its first public high school, the Quincy Upper School.
  • Across Boston Public Schools, in the 2011-12 school year, City Connects partnered with 250 community agencies to arrange more than 30,000 services and enrichment activities for students.
  • 2012 brought some exciting new findings on the long-term benefits of City Connects for students after they have a City Connects elementary school, including significantly lower rates of chronic absenteeism in middle school and significantly lower rates of school dropout after the age of 16.
  • Results of our 2012 teacher survey in Boston were exceptionally positive, with 95% of teachers reporting satisfaction with City Connects and 95% reporting that they would recommend City Connects to a teacher in another school.
  • City Connects’ New Balance Foundation Health & Wellness curriculum continues to show positive results for children across all four units: nutrition, physical activity, social/emotional wellbeing, and healthy choices.

City Connects in Catholic Schools (CCCS) is currently active in 17 schools in the greater Boston area, as well as one freestanding Early Childcare center. Highlights from CCCS include:

  • In the 2011-12 school year, CCCS  linked students to more than 11,000 services and enrichment activities provided by 100 community agencies.
  • This year, CCCS partnered with a freestanding Early Childcare center for the first time, Catholic Charities’ Nazareth Child Care Center in Jamaica Plain. An Early Childhood adaptation of City Connects is being piloted at this center.
  • Analysis of CCCS’s work with Early Childhood populations (ages 3-7)  suggests that students in Early Childhood programs in City Connects schools show significantly more growth in school readiness over a 3-year period than students in comparison schools.

Check back tomorrow for more “Year in Review” updates!

Reading at Home Increases School Readiness

Reading books with parents is an example of “home learning,” which a new paper shows can improve low-income children’s readiness for school. The study, published in Child Development by researchers from New York University, surveyed 1,850 children age 0-5 whose households were living at or below the federal poverty line. They found that differences in a child’s home learning environment predicted his or her school readiness. Children who weren’t exposed to literary activities or learning materials at home were more likely to have delays in language and reading skills in pre-kindergarten.

“…This work highlights the importance of targeting children’s learning environments early in development. By the start of the 2nd year (15 months), the experiences parents provide their children may be solidified into patterns of engagement that will either continue to support or impede children’s emerging skills,” wrote the study’s authors.

For more information:

  • Read the entire study here (pdf)