Community Schools strengthen neighborhoods, raise achievement, new Brookings Institution paper says

Community Schools lead to improvements in attendance, health, school climate and achievement while strengthening neighborhoods, according to a new research paper by Brookings Institution researcher Reuben Jacobson.

The paper, which is part of the Building Healthy Neighborhoods series, explores the potential for Community Schools to cultivate healthy neighborhoods through partnerships with educators, families, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based institutions, and community members. The Community Schools approach is gaining traction throughout America, and is growing in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin.

Community Schools exist or are being developed in several communities throughout Wisconsin, including MadisonGreen BayOshkoshSun Prairie and Milwaukee. Recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured the impressive accomplishments of the Community School program at Auer Avenue School in Milwaukee. It is one of six schools involved in the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership.

An executive summary of Jacobson’s paper says:

The institutions of a neighborhood are vital to its health and economic strength, and public schools are one of the most important shared institutions. They function not only as centers for providing education but also as hubs for communities to organize a range of supports and opportunities for children and their families.

In the growing attention to “place-based” strategies for tackling health and social needs, community schools are commanding attention. Community schools are places where educators, families, nonprofits, businesses, faith- based institutions, and community members form teams and develop partnerships to create the conditions for children to learn and thrive. Such school-based partnerships provide social services and supports, enriching educational opportunities, healthcare, mental health services, adult education, and nutrition programs, with a strong emphasis on equity and making greatest use of the community’s strengths.

Community schools have emerged from America’s long history of exploring schools as community hubs. The number of such schools has grown significantly over the past 10 years, with an estimated 5,000 now in operation. The evidence indicates impacts on attendance, health, school climate, and achievement. But such school-hubs also face challenges that need to be addressed:

  •   Sustained and scalable funding is often lacking.
  •   Cooperating and sharing control with partners is not easy.
  •   “Place” falls on a continuum, requiring any school-hub to be seen as part of a wider network.
  •   The research is growing, but is limited, and data are difficult to collect.

Read the entire report:

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Read more about Community School:

Community Schools put students’ needs front and center

Community schools are an outstanding model for public education in the 21st century because they put students’ needs front and center. These schools can include partnerships with health care and social service providers, mentors, and others who offer a range of services, from medical care and counseling for students, to job resources and emergency assistance for parents and others who live in the neighborhood.