Published Online: February 26, 1997


Community Resources

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Public and private agencies in St. Paul, Minn., are joining forces to provide low-income children with several services under one roof in so-called Achievement Plus schools.

The schools, known as community center complexes, will be open 16 hours a day, every day, and offer education, recreation, health, and social services.

Two St. Paul schools--Dayton's Bluff Elementary and Monroe Community School--have been chosen to participate and already are staying open extra hours to provide additional services to families. Officials plan to build a third school, putting the cost of getting the buildings ready at $27 million.

The first three community center complexes are expected to serve more than 1,700 children.

If the program proves effective, two more complexes might be built, said Su Yeager, a spokeswoman for the St. Paul school district.

The district; the city of St. Paul; the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning; Ramsey County; and the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation are the partners that created and are paying for the effort.

Achievement Plus schools will be in neighborhoods with a concentration of low-income families, high unemployment, and poor student achievement.

The initiative is being modeled after the community schools that began operating in 1989 in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. A joint project of the Children's Aid Society and the New York City school system, the schools serve children three meals a day, offer education and job-training services to parents, and give teachers extra planning time to work on the curriculum.

"The bottom line on this from everybody's point of view is to increase student achievement," Ms. Yeager said. Projects, such as after-school programs, will be integrated into the core subjects to provide children the extra help they need.

Many of the services that the St. Paul schools offer will be tailored specifically to what the local community wants, Ms. Yeager said.

"Different communities have different needs," she said.

Six communities across the country have been recognized for the collaborative work they are doing to serve children and youths.

Teenage pregnancy, school readiness, and increased access to health care are a few of the issues that have been tackled by these school system and government partnerships.

The winners of the 1996-97 Awards for Excellence in Community Collaboration for Children and Youth are: the Youth Futures Authority in Savannah/Chatham County, Ga.; the New Horizons/Success Programs in Des Moines/Polk County, Iowa; the Neighborhood Place in Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.; Mason Collaborations for Achieving School Excellence and Success in the Roxbury section of Boston; the Youth Coordinating Council in Minneapolis/Hennepin County, Minn.; and Project Unity in Bryan/Brazos County, Texas.

The Washington-based Local Collaboration for Children and Youth, which sponsors the program, is made up of six national groups, including the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities.

An eight-judge panel chose the six winners from a pool of 135 entries. There were nine honorable mentions.

Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., plans to be more involved in meeting the social, educational, health, and other needs of children, families, and communities with its new Center for Child, Family, and Community Partnerships. Headed by an education professor, Richard M. Lerner, the center has the mission of pulling together the university's resources to address various community needs.

Examples of the center's work so far include "Overcoming the Odds," a collaboration with Michigan State University to study positive development among African-American and Hispanic students. The center is also working with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to match students from Boston's Roxbury section with an organic farmer so that the children can learn about farming, marketing, and advertising. An initiative is also in the works to join with other educational institutions in the state to create the Massachusetts Consortium of Child and Family-Serving University Centers.


Submissions to the Community Resources column are welcome. Write to: Communities Editor, Education Week, 4301 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 250, Washington, D.C. 20008. Or send items via electronic mail to

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