City Connects in the Boston Globe

Over the weekend, the Boston Globe ran a story about the challenges facing school districts in Massachusetts’ “Gateway Cities,” 24 former industrial cities across the state, in establishing partnerships with nonprofits providing services or funding to schools. The article,”Smaller Mass. cities seek non-profit to bolster schools,” reported that almost 75% of the 40 turnaround schools named by the state since 2010 have been in outlying cities, but for a host of reasons, the bulk of partnerships seem to be concentrated in more populated urban areas like Boston.

This article comes on the heels of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed 2013 budget, which includes funding for his “Gateway Cities Education Agenda,” an initiative he announced in November. The agenda comprises five strategies aiming to close the achievement gap, including a student support effort to be funded by a proposed $3.6 million. The Governor proposed creation of Student Support Councils in Gateway City schools and hiring Student Support Counselors to provide comprehensive services to students and their families.

City Connects is currently working with two Gateway Cities: Springfield, MA, which has City Connects in its turnaround elementary schools, and Lynn, MA, who recently engaged in a planning period with City Connects. From the article:

Already, a movement is taking root among some nonprofits to look beyond Boston. ACCESS, which provides college financial aid advice to middle and high school students, has expanded to Springfield. So has City Connects, an organization at Boston College that puts counselors in local schools to help connect students and their families to a variety of programs.

For more information:

City Connects Expands: Six Springfield, Mass., Schools to Implement Optimized Student Support Model

City Connects is expanding to six turnaround elementary/K-8 schools in Springfield, Mass., for the 2011-12 academic year. This marks City Connects’ first expansion outside of Boston since its inception a decade ago. Through its Race to the Top allocation, Springfield Public Schools chose us as a partner to provide student support in its transformation elementary and K‐8 schools, and we are thrilled that the school year will soon be underway! Read the release (pdf) on our website here.

Back-to-School by the Numbers

Over on the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, Valerie Strauss has compiled a bunch of interesting data pertaining to back-to-school. A few highlights:

  • 55.5 million: Number of students predicted to be enrolled in pre-k through grade 12 this fall
  • 43%: Percentage of students (elementary through high school) who belonged to a minority population in 2009
  • 23%: Percentage students (elementary though high school) who had at least one foreign-born parent in 2009
  • 11.2 million: Number of children (age 5-17) who spoke a language other than English at home in 2009
  • 31.3 million: Average number of children participating each month in the National School Lunch Program in 2009

Here’s a look at City Connects by the numbers at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year:

  • 21: Total number of City Connects schools. We’ll be expanding beyond Boston for the first time, where we’ll be in 15 schools, to serve 6 turnaround elementary schools in Springfield, Mass.
  • 7,500: Using numbers from the 2010-11 school year, we project that we’ll be reaching about 7,500 students total in Boston and Springfield, which is roughly 20% of each district’s total elementary enrollment.
  • 5: Number of days our School Site Coordinators are spending at our annual summer professional development institute, which is underway now!

The first day back to school in (most) Boston elementary schools is Thursday, Sept. 8; Springfield public elementary schools open Monday, Aug. 29. We’re excited for this school year to get underway!