Building Community Schools

May 14, 2003 2 min read

Key Ingredients

“Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools,” by the Coalition for Community Schools, recommends “action steps” that officials should take when setting up community schools. Among them are:

  • Engage the community;
  • Use data to define desired results and drive decisionmaking;
  • Keep schools open before and after the regular school day and on weekends, all year long;
  • Build and rehabilitate school buildings to accommodate community school needs;
  • Incorporate the community into the curriculum as an explicit resource for learning and improved student achievement;
  • Train teachers and principals to find learning opportunities in the community;
  • Integrate in-school and after-school learning experiences;
  • Draw on youth-development expertise;
  • Create broad-based local coalitions to back such schools;
  • Create planning and decisionmaking teams at school sites;
  • Develop knowledge and understanding among partners and across disciplines;
  • Encourage colleges and universities to integrate training from such fields as education, public health, mental health, and social services;
  • Create “community school coordinator” positions;
  • Identify the lead partner for a community school with great care;
  • Organize district funding sources to support a plan for such schools;
  • Change public-financing policies to support community schools;
  • Organize private financing to support the schools; and
  • Provide technical assistance to bolster the development of community schools.

Examples in Action

The Coalition for Community Schools reviewed the research on 20 community school initiatives throughout the country. The coalition examined these programs:

  • Children’s Aid Society, New York City
  • Communities in Schools, 32 states
  • New York City Beacons
  • School of the 21st Century, 20 states
  • California Healthy Start, 49 counties
  • Illinois Project Success, 89 counties
  • Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Services Program, statewide
  • New Jersey School-Based Youth Services Program, statewide
  • Texas Alliance Schools, 20 school districts
  • Washington Readiness to Learn, 24 grantees across the state
  • Ohio Urban School Initiative School-Age Child Care Project, 17 school districts
  • Achievement Plus, three schools in St. Paul, Minn.
  • Boston Excels, five schools
  • Bridges to Success, Indianapolis, 41 schools
  • Center for School Change Initiative, 20 rural sites in Minnesota
  • Dallas Youth and Family Centers Program, nine locations
  • Hamilton County (Ohio) Families and Children First Council, 12 schools
  • L.A.'s BEST After-School Enrichment Program, 69 sites
  • Polk Brothers Full-Service School Initiative, three schools in Chicago
  • Schools Uniting Neighborhoods, 15 schools in Portland and Multnomah County, Ore.

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