Best Wishes and Many Thanks to Our Current and Future Partners

Dear Friends:

As we end this year and prepare for the new one, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools team offers 16 highlights of our work in 2016, with gratitude to the many partners who have collaborated and engaged with us on the journey toward making every school a community school:  
  1. Provided on-site and intensive implementation assistance to community school initiatives in a number of cities and districts, including Baltimore, Binghamton (NY), Buffalo, Cleveland, Erie (PA), Flint, Hartford, Newark, New York City, Orange (NJ), Orlando, Ossining (NY), Paterson (NJ), and Trenton.
  2. Deepened our community schools technical assistance work in New York City, in partnership with the mayor’s office, the Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools, and the United Way of NYC. This work involves providing ongoing capacity-building for the city’s 140 new community schools, with a focus on helping address chronic absence. We also continued our partnership with the Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center Technical Assistance Resource Center, which provides support to the NYC grantees. And we developed a new partnership with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development to create a series of parent engagement trainings for their grantees and update their Family Engagement Toolkit.
  3. Hosted 41 study, policy, funding and media visits to our New York City community schools, for 350 visitors from across the United States (including Hawaii), and from Wales, China, Taiwan, Canada, and Colombia.
  4. Participated in a White House Conference entitled Beating the Odds, which highlighted programs and strategies—including community schools—that have had documented success in helping young people in challenging neighborhoods achieve. NCCS Director Jane Quinn presented on a plenary panel as did Jeff Palladino, principal of Fannie Lou Hamer (FLH) Freedom High School (a long-time Children’s Aid community school), and Elvis Santana, a FLH graduate.
  5. Conferences: We held our 4th biennial Community Schools Fundamentals Conference in New York City, which drew 200 participants from 20 states and 43 cities/districts from around the country. More than 150 of conference participants joined study visits to our community schools. And we convened a very successful conference for New York City’s “early adopters” of the community schools strategy, bringing together over 50 practitioners from 15 initiatives.
  6. Partnered with the Connecticut Center for School Change, Cross & Joftus, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to assist seven low-performing districts in the state of Connecticut to expand their family and community engagement work.
  7. Continued to assist the 22 Children’s Aid community schools by sharing best practices. Our team also participated in an agency-wide continuous improvement task force to strengthen our community school work.
  8. Continued to disseminate, free of charge, several thousand copies of our publications: Building Community Schools: A Guide for Action; Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools, case study and manual; and our monthly e-newsletter, Partnership Press.
  9. Upgraded our NCCS website (nccs.org), working with a pro-bono designer in Seattle and the Children’s Aid Marketing and Communications team. The website offers news about NCCS in particular and community schools in general while also providing a wide array of free, downloadable community schools planning tools.
  10. Partnered with the New York State Education Department to provide webinars, planning tools, and other materials to the 225 school districts across the state that are sharing in the new investment of $175 million for community schools statewide.
  11. Contributed to the development of an emerging New York State Community Schools Network, in partnership with Children’s Aid’s Public Policy Department as well as education and human service colleagues from around the state.
  12. Continued our partnership with the Coalition for Community Schools (CCS) and other organizations to advocate for community schools at the city, state, and federal levels and actively participated in the Coalition’s Steering Committee, Leadership Network, and National Forum Planning Committee. As in the past, NCCS contributed to the success of the CCS’s national forum in Albuquerque by organizing a 24-member delegation from Children’s Aid, conducting several workshops, hosting an exhibit, and consulting with national and international participants.
  13. Contributed to the development of the first New Jersey Community Schools Statewide Convening, co-hosted by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and Montclair State University’s Center for Community Engagement. The conference featured a keynote address by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. The event was co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Office of Diversity and Inclusion and by The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation.
  14. Continued our partnership to implement Mind in the Making (MITM), a Kellogg-funded national initiative that teaches parents and other caregivers to promote the development of children’s essential executive skills. In March 2016, MITM, formerly a program of the Families and Work Institute (FWI), became part of the Bezos Family Foundation, and former FWI director Ellen Galinsky became chief science officer and executive director at the foundation.
  15. Continued publicizing community schools, specifically by preparing chapters for two new books: (1) Developing Community Schools, Community Learning Centers, Extended-service Schools and Multi-service Schools: International Exemplars for Practice, Policy and Research, a 2016 book edited by professors Hal Lawson and Dolf van Veen, respectively from the State University of New York at Albany and Windesheim University (Netherlands); and (2) the Coalition for Community Schools’ book series on effective practices for building strong, sustainable partnerships within community schools, for which we wrote a chapter about the role of the community school director.
  16. Continued a national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and developed a staff training curriculum series, based on research and best practices, to build BGCA staff’s understanding of youth development, from early to late adolescence. The curriculum includes practical tools to ensure authentic youth engagement by creating the conditions so that young people can make meaningful decisions and by eliciting youth input at every stage of the program design process.