Closing the opportunity gap with data, systems, and support

Mary Walsh
City Connects’ executive director Mary Walsh

Boston College’s Lynch School of Education (LSOE), the home base of City Connects’ research and implementation teams, has published a new piece about the impact of our work: “Closing the opportunity gap with data, systems, and support.” From the article:

“Over the course of the past decade, research has shown that two-thirds of the student achievement gap can be attributed to out-of-school factors and how they affect a student’s ability to focus on school. The success of [professor and executive director Mary] Walsh’s program, and evidence from its rigorous evaluation, shows that schools can collaborate with community partners to significantly narrow the gap.”

For more information:

  • Follow the LSOE on Twitter @BCLSOE

City Connects partners with Sinclair Community College

We’re pleased to announce that City Connects has partnered with Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, to adapt our model of student support to the community college setting.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Sinclair and our long-time partners, the Mathile Family Foundation, to create a seamless K-14 system of student support,” said Mary E. Walsh, Ph.D., Executive Director of City Connects and the Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovative Leadership at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. “This initiative represents two institutions of higher education coming together to support students in completing their college degree.”

For more information, head over to the News section of our website to read the release and coverage from the local Dayton Daily News.

Support All Students to Close the Achievement Gap

Over on ASCD‘s “The Whole Child” blog, City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh has a guest blog post about how schools can counter the impact of poverty on students. In “Support All Students to Close the Achievement Gap,” she writes:

How can schools, with their limited resources, address these barriers to learning? Traditionally, the approach has been through “student support,” a catch-all phrase whose definition varies from school to school and district to district. Typically, it encompasses the role of counselors. Often, only the most vulnerable and at-risk students receive the lion’s share of the attention. Student support can be approached differently, in a way that dramatically enhances its effectiveness. It works best when delivered in a comprehensive, systematic approach to each and every student in a school.

For more information:

City Connects Year in Review: Springfield, MA

2012 marked the second year of City Connects implementation in Springfield (MA) Public Schools. The engagement began in five of Springfield’s turnaround elementary schools and this year, expanded to three turnaround middle schools. This marks City Connects’ first expansion to freestanding middle schools; we are now reaching about 2,800 students in Springfield! Some highlights include:

  • Across all schools in the 2011-12 academic year, City Connects partnered with more than 100 agencies to arrange 14, 500 services for students in Springfield Public Schools.
  • After our first year in Springfield Public Schools, results of the 2012 teacher survey were exceptionally positive: 91% of teachers reported satisfaction with City Connects and 89% reported that they would recommend City Connects to a teacher in another school.
  • City Connects held its first-ever community partner meeting, where more than 85 community agencies gathered at Springfield College to launch the Springfield “Wraparound Zone” Initiative. Read more about the meeting here.
  • Mary Walsh, City Connects’ Executive Director, and Julie Donovan, City Connects Program Manager in Springfield, were invited to speak to the Springfield School Committee. They shared the initial positive results from the first year of implementation.

For more information:

  • Check out our Year in Review: Boston  and Ohio posts.

City Connects featured in Education Week blog

We are delighted that our work was written about on Education Week‘s “Public Engagement & Education Reform” blog today! You can read the post here:

More on Turning Schools Around

Here’s an excerpt from the piece featuring a quote from our Executive Director, Mary E. Walsh:

While strong school leadership is imperative, we believe that it is unfair to ask schools and teachers to bear sole responsibility for closing the economic divide. Systematically addressing out-of-school factors can help students achieve and removes the burden from teachers, allowing them to focus on delivering quality instruction.

For more information:

City Connects at the National Catholic Educational Association Meeting

NCEAToday and tomorrow, City Connects will have be represented at the annual meeting of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in Boston. Here are a couple of presentations to check out if you are attending the meeting:

  • Is Each and Every Catholic High School Graduate College and Career-Ready?

Thursday, April 12, 1:15-2:30pm, Room 207
Patrice DiNatale and Norm Hursh, City Connects; John Marshall, Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School (Dayton, Ohio)

Preparing high school students to be college and career-ready is a considerable challenge for today’s secondary schools, including Catholic schools. In this presentation, school leaders discuss specific steps and strategies to introduce a proven program of optimized student support at the high school level that promotes students’ academic achievement, healthy development, and college and career readiness. Problem solving steps and strategies to address personnel, operational, and management systems to promote implementation will be discussed.

  • Optimized Student Support as a Core Function of Catholic Education

Friday, April 13, 10:45am-12pm, Hynes 107
Presenters: Mary E. Walsh,
City Connects, and Matthew J. Welch, City Connects in Catholic Schools

This session describes an evidence-based approach to addressing the out-of-school factors that shape academic achievement and healthy development. We will detail the implementation and delivery of this approach within K-8 Catholic schools and will illustrate student and school outcome data. With this information we will then launch into a discussion about how to optimize student support at your school.

Pat DiNatale and Norm Hursh will also be presenting about City Connects this weekend at the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA) National Conference in Baltimore. This year’s theme is “Destination Equity;” Pat and Norm’s presentation is on Saturday, April 14.

For more information:

  • Follow NCEA on Twitter @NCEATalk; use #NCEA2012 for conference updates

Introducing a New Director of Implementation

A message from Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects:

I am delighted to announce a new member of the City Connects leadership team, Alison Stahl, who begins serving as Director of Implementation today. Alison comes to us with a strong background in nonprofit leadership. Most recently, she worked at Families United in Educational Leadership (FUEL), which works with low-income families in Boston, Chelsea, and Lynn to realize their dreams of a higher education and break the cycle of poverty. As Director of Programs at FUEL, Alison helped to develop their model and facilitate implementation in new sites. In this and other positions, she has gained experience in creating infrastructure for implementation, using data to inform practice. In her previous leadership positions, she has worked to foster the kinds of school-community partnerships that broaden educational opportunity and that are central to the City Connects model. Alison shares our passion of ensuring that every child comes to school ready to learn and thrive and we welcome her to our team!

Season’s Greetings from City Connects

Boston College Winter
Winter at Boston College

As we approach the holidays, a message from City Connects Executive Director, Mary Walsh:

On behalf of the City Connects team, I extend greetings of the season and warmest wishes for the holidays! 2011 has been a year full of exciting progress for City Connects; we expanded in Springfield, MA, were named a Priority Partner for turnaround schools through Massachusetts’ Race to the Top grant, and continued to see significant positive results demonstrating the effectiveness of our work.

As the year draws to a close, we reflect with gratitude on the enduring support of our partners in schools and in the community. Together, we are addressing the non-academic challenges facing students to ensure that all children come to school ready to learn and thrive.

Thank you, and we look forward to another wonderful and productive year ahead in 2012!

We’ll be back January 3, 2012. Season’s greetings!