Center staff has supported Boston’s leadership in the community schools movement since 1997, when the Gardner Elementary School in Allston-Brighton became one of the initial adaptation sites in the Extended-Service Schools initiative, funded by the Wallace Foundation.
Summary:As the Gardner School’s work expanded to ConnectFive (a multi-site initiative), our staff continued to provide guidance, training and other assistance. We subsequently invited Boston Schools Superintendent Tom Payzant to contribute a chapter to our 2005 book entitled Community Schools in Action: Lessons from a Decade of Practice and have worked collaboratively with the Boston Full-Service Schools Roundtable as it sought to coordinate all the community schools activity in the Boston area. More recently, the Boston Public Schools asked the Center to provide intensive training and consultation to staff of the BPS Department of Extended Learning Time, Afterschool and Services (DELTAS), which expanded our role into building the capacity of the capacity-builders—BPS staff whose role is to assist 35 local community school and after-school sites. Center staff focused specifically on building the coaching skills of DELTAS managers as they work within their portfolio of sites to develop full-service schools. And, most recently, we initiated a partnership with City Connects, the latest evolution of ConnectFive, by incorporating their methodology into several of The Children’s Aid Society’s New York City community schools.
The Center has provided technical assistance and training to the Chicago Community Schools Initiative throughout its 14-year history, from its inception to the present day.
Summary:At the outset of the Chicago Community Schools Initiative, NCCS staff advised district, civic and philanthropic leaders about the community schools approach and recommended strategies for going to scale rapidly. During this initial phase, the Center hosted several high-level study visits to our community schools in New York City; one such delegation included Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan, who later became the U.S. Secretary of Education. Once an initial cohort of community schools was selected, our staff provided training and consultation to school principals and directors.
As the Chicago Community Schools Initiative grew from this initial cohort to its present size of more than 150 schools, our staff provided regular consultation and training at the request of the Chicago Public Schools as well as individual partner organizations, including the Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois, the Centers for New Horizons and Columbia College for the Arts. We also helped the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration develop the country’s first graduate-level preparation program for community school directors.
The Chicago Community Schools Initiative regularly sends representatives to our biannual Community Schools Practicum conference. In addition, our staff have served as “thinking partners” to initiative leaders, providing regular consultation through in-person contacts and telephone and e-mail exchanges. The NCCS team recently worked with leaders of the Chicago Community Schools Initiative to implement a Community Schools Fundamentals Conference in Chicago
Several years ago, the British government established a national goal to have all of England’s 23,000 schools become “Extended Schools” (community schools) by the year 2010. The Children’s Aid Society assisted this effort in several ways and continues to have active working relationships with leaders of the Extended Schools work in the United Kingdom.
Summary:The Children’s Aid Society and our National Center for Community Schools supported national policy development and reform implementation in England over a ten-year period through several sets of activities: hosting numerous study visits for national policymakers, including members of the British Parliament, to our schools in New York City; offering several on-site consultations, including a presentation to the British Parliament on community schools; providing materials, books and other tools; and working collaboratively for many years with key staff from ContinYou, the leading community school technical assistance provider in the UK. Under the Blair administration, England came close to meeting its ambitious national goal of every school an Extended School, and a national evaluation led by Professor Alan Dyson documented impressive results. Under the Cameron administration, Extended Schools lost political favor and support but much of the work continues to this day through the changed practices and relationships between schools and community partners. Lessons learned and tools developed through this effort, including standards of practice, are being disseminated internationally through the work of the International Centre of Excellence for Community Schools, which is based in Coventry, England, led by Chris Jones, formerly of ContinYou.
Kent County, MI
Since 2006, the National Center for Community Schools (NCCS) has provided coaching, training and technical assistance to the Kent School Services Network (KSSN), a community schools initiative in Kent County, Michigan that was formed to provide students with the supports, services and opportunities needed to eliminate barriers to learning and to promote student success.
Summary:After conducting extensive research on school reform and integrated service delivery efforts around the country—including a study visit to a Children’s Aid Society community school in New York City—the Grand Rapids Education Reform Initiative decided to launch KSSN. The KSSN Leadership Team includes executives from three school districts, several Kent County departments (health, social services intermediate school district), Network 180 (mental health services), Spectrum Health/Healthier Communities, several private foundations and the local United Way. During the first year of the initiative, NCCS staff provided monthly on-site training and consultation to help the leaders achieve their ambitious goal of establishing nine community schools. During the second and third years, our staff continued to provide a menu of assistance that included on-site consultation, study visits to New York City and systemic-level coaching. KSSN has commissioned third-party evaluations of the initiative, participates actively in the Community Schools Leadership Network of the Coalition for Community Schools and provides technical assistance to other initiatives in Michigan and the Midwest..
San Mateo County, CA
In 2003, the Center entered into a collaborative relationship with the John W. Gardner Center (JGC) at Stanford University and the Center for School-Community Partnerships at UC Davis (University of California at Davis) to create an Academy for Community Schools Development—a three-year training and consultation effort whose goal was to develop, implement and sustain a multi-site community schools initiative in Redwood City and Half Moon Bay.
Summary:The collaborative jointly developed a sequential nine-session course that was offered to teams of school and community leaders from five schools. The teams met three times each year for day-long training and planning sessions, and then returned to their schools to address the variety of issues involved in moving from a traditional school to a community school. Parents were active participants in all of the sites teams, as were leaders from county health and mental health agencies. Each team was supported by a JGC Community Partnership Liaison who worked closely with the site teams throughout the three-year process. NCCS helped to build the capacity of these key staff members to enhance their coaching and consultation skills. All five of these community schools are thriving and have sustained their comprehensive and integrated services.