|Decision Makers:||Community Members Educators Local Government|
|Population Reach:||10-19% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Community schools, also called full-service community schools or community learning centers, combine academics, physical health, mental health, and social service resources for students and families through partnerships with a variety of community service organizations (CCS-FAQs). Services vary, but can include tutoring, mentoring, case management, counseling, early childhood and adult education, and employment assistance. An example of place-based initiatives, community schools may be developed through partnerships among educators, city planners, public health practitioners, and community members (Cohen 2012a). Community schools are frequently located in low income rural or urban areas and are financed through a mix of public and private funds (Blank 2003). Community schools are open to students, their families, and the broader community every day, even when school is not in session.
There is some evidence that community schools increase academic achievement and improve student attendance compared to traditional public schools (Moore 2014, Blank 2003, CIS 2008, CIS 2010a, CIS 2010b). Community schools that provide more services to students and families increase academic achievement and improve student attendance more than schools that provide fewer services (Adams 2010, CIS 2008).
Community schools have been shown to reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates among attendees (CIS 2008). Over time, students who attend community schools appear to improve their behavior. Students also appear to have increased access to needed social services and preventive care, increased interaction with supportive adults, and more stable family and personal situations (Blank 2003).
Communities in Schools, a frequently implemented model of a community school, has been shown to increase academic achievement and improve student attendance in rural, urban, and suburban schools, as well as among black, white, and Hispanic students (CIS 2008). The Communities in Schools model provides services to address school-wide needs, as well as individualized services for students with the greatest needs.
Community schools may improve communication between families, teachers, and students (Blank 2003). Over time, community schools may also increase parents’ involvement, attendance at school activities, and engagement with school faculty, staff, and other parents (Chen 2016a, Sanders 2015). Neighborhoods with community schools may have greater access to social services and increased levels of community involvement (Blank 2003).
Economic analyses of community school initiatives show a positive return on investment, ranging from $4 - $15 per dollar invested (Moore 2014).
As of 2015, there are approximately 5,000 community schools in 150 communities across the US (Blank 2015). The Coalition for Community Schools highlights many community schools and models; implementation varies by school and model (CCS-FAQs). Community schools can be found in large school districts such as New York City, Chicago, and Baltimore; medium districts such as Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, and Lincoln, Nebraska; and in smaller districts such as Evanston, Illinois; Vallejo, California; and Allentown, Pennsylvania (Blank 2015).
Many initiatives support not only individual school transformations into community schools, but efforts to change all schools in the area into community schools (Blank 2015). For example, the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI) is a network of partnerships between Tulsa Public Schools, Union Public Schools, and community leaders; TACSI supports 27 community schools and is working to further support such schools via its Center for Community School Strategies (TACSI-Community schools). In Prince George’s County, Maryland, the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative uses community schools with a community resource advocate in 30 of the most vulnerable schools in the county (CC-Simington 2015, PGC-TNI). New Hampshire’s Manchester Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy supports community schools throughout the city (MHD-MNHIS 2014).
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction suggests community schools as a strategy to reduce achievement gaps. The Bruce Guadalupe Community School is one example of a community school in Wisconsin. The school, located in Milwaukee, serves a primarily Hispanic community and provides a variety of services, including adult day care, drug rehabilitation, and real estate counseling (WI DPI-Community schools).
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