Community Schools

Oakland Unified Community Schools Initiatives – from Learning Policy Institute

Figure 1: Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole Child Design
Source: Learning Policy Institute & Turnaround for Children. (2021). Design principles for schools: Putting the science of learning and development into action.

The essential principles of whole child education are manifested in schools that include positive developmental relationships in which adults provide care and guidance that enable youth to grow their agency, learn skills, and take on new challenges; environments of safety and belonging in which young people feel physically and emotionally safe in their identities, knowing that they and their cultures are a valued part of the community; rich learning experiences that develop students’ deep understanding and center students by building on their strengths and experiences; the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills, habits, and mindsets, including executive function, a growth mindset, personal and social awareness, interpersonal skills, resilience and perseverance, metacognition, and self-direction; and integrated support systems that enable schools to meet students’ holistic needs.

The four pillars of community schools can create the conditions for these principles to flourish. Community school pillars such as collaborative leadership and practices and active family and community engagement can orient these schools toward relationship building and inclusive forums that nurture a positive school climate. Dedicated community school managers or directors, who commonly hold positions in these institutions, can also help establish and maintain integrated support systems, making these interventions more accessible, coordinated, and equitable. Finally, with their attention to providing enriched and expanded learning, community schools can create opportunities for young people to engage in an array of learning experiences that pique their curiosity, nurture their full range of skills and habits, and engage them in meaningful and culturally relevant learning.

The Community Schools Movement

The Hawai‘i Afterschool Alliance has been a major force in community school innovation in Hawai‘i. They have joined with others to create the Coalition for Community Schools.

About the State Coalition

Built upon a foundation of pilina (strong relationships), schools are hubs of their community, where families, educators, and communities collectively pursue equitable student outcomes and community wellbeing. Mission
Unify a diverse group of partners and resources to advocate for, lift up, and support the growth and implementation of community schools in Hawaiʻi. Key Areas of WorkAdvocacy and Policy – Coordinate advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels, and within state agencies to support and sustain community schools.Capacity Building and Resource Sharing – Share resources and support schools in implementing the community school strategies.Communications and Messaging – Create unified messaging and communication campaigns to build awareness of the impact and importance of community schools. Building Partnerships – Grow the coalition to include cross-sector partners, and create opportunities for input from students, families and school leaders.

Community Schools – What and How- a Guide from the Partnership for the Future of Learning

Community Schools are one of the most promising strategies to transform education. Family engagement in children’s school life and learning is proven to boost learning and social emotional wellness. Authentic learning, showing the career usefulness of school studies benefits from community business involvement with the school. Health and career services for the family may be provided at community schools, supporting whole family health and advancement. Four key characteristics distinguish community schools:

1) integrated student supports;
2) expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities;
3) active family and community engagement; and
4) collaborative leadership and practices.

Text from the Playbook:

Community schools are public schools that partner with families and community organizations to provide well-rounded educational opportunities and supports for students’ school success. Like every good school, community schools must be built on a foundation of powerful teaching that includes challenging academic content and supports students’ mastery of 21st century skills and competencies. What makes community schools unique is the combination of four key pillars (or features) that together create the conditions necessary for students to thrive. The pillars are: 1) integrated student supports; 2) expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities; 3) active family and community engagement; and 4) collaborative leadership and practices. We discuss each of these features in detail in Section II. Because each community school is a reflection of local needs, assets, and priorities, no two look exactly alike. What they do share, however, is a commitment to partnership and to rethinking—and at times rebuilding—relationships based on a strong foundation of trust and respect. School staff, under the leadership of the principal and community school director, work with families and community partners to create and implement a shared vision of student and school success.

Every student should have access to schools with the resources, opportunities, and supports that make academic success possible and create strong ties among families, students, schools, and communities. Doing so will provide more equitable opportunities and prepare students for success in life and as citizens. That’s what community schools offer. They are a powerful, evidence-based strategy for creating excellent schools for students, regardless of their race, family income level, or the ZIP Code in which they live. This guide provides tools for policymakers, students and families, community leaders, allies, and advocates who want to advance community schools as a strategy to improve schools. It builds on a large body of research and excellent resources that have been developed by community schools advocates and practitioners. It has also benefited from the review and input of local and national experts in the field.

– Community Schools Playbook

Community Schools Playbook

The Community Schools Playbook was produced for the Partnership for the Future of Learning by the Public Leadership Institute in partnership with the Coalition for Community Schools. Research for the Community Schools Playbook was conducted by the Learning Policy Institute, the National Education Policy Center, and Research for Action.

Partnership for the Future of Learnng
Coalition for Community Schools
Learning Policy Institute
Public Leadership Institute
National Education Policy Center
Research for Action

In the Fallout of the Pandemic, Community Schools Show a Way Forward for Education – from Learning Policy Institute

Click here for the full article

Excerpt of Article by Authors Jeannie OakesAnna MaierJulia Daniel

This post is part of LPI’s Learning in the Time of COVID-19 blog series, which explores evidence-based and equity-focused strategies and investments to address the current crisis and build long-term systems capacity.

School buildings are closed for nearly all of the country’s 50.8 million public school students, and those being hit the hardest are the nation’s most marginalized students—more than 52% in 2016–17. For these students, school closures can mean the loss not only of precious learning time but also of essential services such as meals and medical and mental health services that mitigate the stresses of poverty.

But there are schools that continue to support student learning and well-being—among them, community schools. The country’s community schools are designed to serve the whole child (addressing learning and well-being) and are based on the understanding that children are better positioned to learn when they are healthy, well fed, and safe. The United States has thousands of community schools serving millions of students already. Among these schools, 2,300 are part of the nonprofit network Communities in Schools. The nonprofit Coalition for Community Schools network supports some 5,000 community schools across the country.

Although there are other schools around the country that use some of the strategies of community schools and have also successfully responded to student and family needs, community schools are unique in that they have formalized and powered up these supports around four “pillars”—medical and mental services, extended learning time, family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership among staff. They hire dedicated staff such as community schools coordinators to organize services for students and families through partnerships with nonprofit and government organizations, including health clinics, food banks, tutoring, and after-school programs. As we begin to rebuild and rethink schooling, this is a highly effective, research-based approach that policymakers can look to.As we begin to rebuild and rethink schooling, [community schools are] a highly effective, research-based approach that policymakers can look to.

Because community schools prioritize relationships with family members—often offering social services and classes for parents and guardians—they were already deeply rooted in their students’ lives and had relationships and infrastructures in place when COVID-19 hit that enabled them to mobilize support services and connect with their students and families meaningfully and quickly. (continued)

U.S. Department of Education Releases “Frequently Asked Questions: Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Support Full-Service Community Schools & Related Strategies” | U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Department of Education Releases “Frequently Asked Questions: Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Support Full-Service Community Schools & Related Strategies” | U.S. Department of Education
— Read on“frequently-asked-questions-using-american-rescue-plan-funding-support-full-service-community-schools-related-strategies”

Community Schools Playbook from Learning Policy Institute and Partnership for the Future of Learning

Around the country, educators, grassroots organizations, and policymakers are advancing comprehensive community schools as a powerful evidenced-based equity strategy. Together, they’re creating high-performing schools that serve as centers of community life, where educators, families, and local partners come together to support student well-being and academic success.

The Community Schools Playbook, from the Partnership for the Future of Learning, is a comprehensive policy and implementation guide for those looking to advance community schools. It provides an in-depth review of the strategy, details the four key pillars of comprehensive community schools—Integrated Student Supports, Expanded and Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities, Active Family and Community Engagement, and Collaborative Leadership and Practices—and has both communications and policy development resources, including policy examples from across the United States and model legislative language.

The Playbook is available on a new interactive web site, hosted by the Partnership for the Future of Learning. Visitors to the site can review and print the book and access supporting resources, including videos and infographics.

Click the info graphic or this link to access an implementation plan for Community Schools.