De Blasio Administration Announces $52 Million Investment to Launch Community Schools

June 17, 2014

City to launch 40 new Community Schools in high-need neighborhoods that bring social service providers into schools to support at-risk students and families

Wide array of in-school programming can include mental health services, vision testing, physical wellness, tutoring, job training and family counseling

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $52 million grant to launch the development of 40 innovative Community Schools that will match comprehensive social services and learning programs with 40 high-need public schools across the city. By reaching students with vitally important services ranging from mental health support to homework help and family counseling, Community Schools have a proven track-record of helping at-risk children succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Coupled with pre-K for every child and expanded after-school programs for middle schoolers, the Mayor pledged to make Community Schools a key component of transforming the education system and lifting up every child.

The 4-year grant utilizes funding provided by the New York State Department of Education and will be managed in partnership with the United Way of New York City. Schools and non-profit service providers will be selected this summer through a Request for Proposals. The Department of Education and United Way will work in close coordination with parents and communities to design and launch programs during the 2014-2015 school year.

“This is one of the cornerstones of our education agenda. Along with pre-K for every child and expanded after-school programs, launching more Community Schools will help fundamentally transform our education system in a way that lifts up every child. From in-school mental health services to homework help and family counseling, Community Schools have proven to be incredibly successful at helping students thrive in the classroom and beyond. We are excited to have the United Way of New York City as partners in bringing these innovative models to more communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Community Schools serve a vital need for our students and families by providing academic enrichment in partnership with mental health and social services. This monumental expansion will partner schools with community-based organizations that bring a wealth of services to lift up students and parents and create a foundation for academic success, while supporting neighborhoods with high needs,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
  
“As we continue to combat the challenges of increasing the number of New York City students graduating high school, especially students living in poverty, we look to strengthen the partnership of UWNYC and the DOE that has collaborated around servicing chronically absent students for the last 20 years,” said Sheena Wright, President & CEO, United Way of New York City. “With this new grant for Attendance Improvement and Dropout Prevention, we strongly believe that the most promising future reform in serving low attending students lies in addressing the school’s whole community.  UWNYC’s initiative will connect solutions—such as community safety, health care, and family involvement—to ensure students achieve in school, from the moment they and their families walk in the door, to the moment students walk out in cap and gown.”

At Community Schools, parents will be able to secure essential services on the school campus or within the immediate vicinity with the help of an experienced non-profit provider. A full-time Resource Coordinator at each school will help communities identify the necessary mix of services for each student body. The exact types of services and programs offered at each Community School will be tailored to the needs of students, families and the school community. Together, these programs will work to prevent dropouts and chronic absenteeism, improve academic performance, and better support at-risk families.

Children’s Aid Society, which currently operates successful Community Schools regarded as national models, will provide additional support as well as ongoing professional development to ensure that new programs are effective. The specific grant sizes for individual non-profit providers and schools will be based on the size of the student population. Organizations that are selected will demonstrate a clear understanding of the needs of the community they serve, have a comprehensive plan to provide the services, and have a proven track record in providing services to communities across the city.

“The families and communities we serve stand to greatly benefit from the Mayor’s significant investments in children,” said Bill Weisberg, Interim CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. “Community Schools bolster student success by reorganizing community resources to support the needs of the whole child. As The Children’s Aid Society works to build cradle-through-college pathways for New York City’s most vulnerable children, we are excited to partner with the administration to launch this new initiative, and work together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

“CEJ is excited that through this Community Schools initiative, New York City schools will finally be encouraged to support the whole child and partner closely with communities to raise student achievement. As parents who know what it takes to make our neighborhood schools work, we are excited by the Chancellor and the Mayor’s commitment to having parents and communities deeply invested and involved in the planning, design and implementation of Community Schools from the start. We know that Community Schools can build the strong partnerships that transform student achievement, through a positive school climate and a strong academic component, while also strengthening the entire community by drawing from the assets that already exist there. We look forward to working with the administration to ensure that this initiative is a success and that it reaches the districts and schools that need it the most,” said Elsy Chavez, parent leader with the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice and Make the Road NY.

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