Most of you have heard the term “community school.” You may even have a community school in your area. But understanding how a successful community school functions is key to supporting the growth and development of these important community hubs.
A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between a school and other community resources and programs. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and engagement, leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.
Community schools put children at the center, surrounded by families and communities. However, supports are given not only to students, but also to family and community members as a whole – weaving a web of support throughout the neighborhoods where community schools are located.
First, partners agree on clear and measurable goals so that all partners are striving for the same outcomes. Programs are then aligned to focus on student academic success and provide constant communication between students, parents, principals, and non-school partners. When interventions are needed, they are based on a student’s individual needs and data. Finally, a full-time Community School Director provides backbone support to “connect the dots” and help partners work in new ways to promote student success.
Because a student’s educational success, health, and well-being are the focus of every community school, three interconnected support systems are the foundation.
- Core instructional program. Strong school leadership and academic practice designed to help all student meet high academic standards is essential.
- Expanded learning opportunities. Before, after, and summer school programs designed to enrich the learning environment for children and their families.
- Comprehensive support services. A full range of health, mental health, and social services designed to promote children’s well-being and remove barriers to learning provide tools for success.
Today, we know that Community Schools are working to change the odds for kids and families. In areas where UWSL works, we have seen significant increases in key performance indicators and know that through Collective Impact work and our amazing Promise Partnerships, these numbers will continue to show improvement.
- The rates of adults with health insurance has increased by 10 percent since Fall of 2011
- The rate of children starting kindergarten ready to learn has increased 5 percent since the 2011/12 school year
- In South Salt Lake, the rate of 3rd graders reading on grade level has gone up 15 percent
- The rate of kids who are on track to graduate has increased by 12 percent in the last three years
Community schools are vital to the health of our most heavily impacted communities. You can help support community schools!
GIVE, ADVOCATE, or VOLUNTEER today to help these community hubs continue to offer resources and supports to kids and families!