Role of Community Schools in Place-Based Initiatives

Posted by on July 15, 2013

Written by William R. Potapchuk

Community schools are the ground game for student success in initiatives such as Promise Neighborhoods and cradle-to-career efforts that weave resources together to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families, according to a new paper released today by the Coalition for Community Schools, PolicyLink and the West Coast Collaborative.

The paper, “The Role of Community Schools in Place-Based Initiatives: Collaborating for Student Success,” explores how community schools provide the needed local infrastructure and community buy-in for place-based initiatives to gain traction.

The report describes how community schools, which operate in more than 100 communities nationwide, help large-scale, place-based initiatives build trust and gain traction by  integrating multi-sector partnerships, responding quickly to new opportunities, and ensuring that students and families receive resources and support in a convenient and friendly location—their local school. Community schools anchor community action and success in education by helping broader initiatives do the hard work on the ground to ensure they deliver on their promises to students and families.

The paper provides an in-depth look at how community schools function as the locus of services for larger initiatives in three communities: Multnomah County, Ore; Los Angeles, Cal; and South King County, Wash.

“Promise Neighborhoods need to be able to do this work in the context of the excellent work already happening on the ground. There is absolutely no need to recreate the wheel,” said Michael McAfee, Senior Director at Policy Link. “We see community schools as an important part of the Promise Neighborhood effort.”

“Implementing large-scale efforts to revamp education and the economy require a force on the ground that knows the territory, has a track record for delivery, and will do the hard work of implementing coordinated services to those most in need,” said Martin J. Blank, director of the Coalition for Community Schools and president of the Institute for Educational Leadership. “Place-based programs and community schools are working together in scores of communities like these. They are leading the way toward new metropolitan-area strategies that are sharing resources and producing results for hundreds of thousands of young people nationwide.”

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