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Community Schools Recognized as Together for Tomorrow Champions


Community school initiatives across the country continue to be rewarded for their efforts by high-level education campaigns. Four community school initiatives were recognized last month as Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Champions, a competition conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Together for Tomorrow Challenge recognizes exemplary educational models that create innovative school and community partnerships to turn around low-performing schools.
Community school organizations in Dayton, OH, Providence, RI, Chicago, and Baltimore were all named as one of the 24 Together for Tomorrow champions. 
In Dayton, East End Community Services was recognized for the work it’s doing with Ruskin PreK-8 School, a community school on the city’s struggling east side. Ruskin, one of five schools incorporated in University of Dayton’s Neighborhood School Center community school initiative, was formerly a charter school before undergoing a major renovation and converting back into the Dayton Public School system.
East End has helped connect Ruskin to a myriad of partnerships including the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, YMCA of Greater Dayton, CityFolk, Learn to Earn Dayton to provide area students with a host of innovative learning and expanded learning opportunities. The community schools strategy at Ruskin is helping improve kindergarten-readiness, reading on grade level by third grade, middle-to-high school transition, and college and career readiness.
 "We’re trying to rebuild the community and the only way we could do that was through a really good neighborhood school," said Amy Jomantas, Associate Executive Director with East End Community Services.
Elev8, a national full-service community school model implemented in several cities across the country, was recognized for its community school sites in Baltimore and Chicago. According to Stephen McConnell, Country Director for U.S. Programmes at The Atlantic Philanthropies, "Elev8 is a model for what can be achieved when communities come together to improve the outcomes for students and families."
Providence, Rhode Island, also a winner has used its Full-Service Community School (FSCS) plan as a driving component of its school turnaround strategy since 2008. Their community school initiative started at Roberta Bailey Elementary School but has expanded to seven other schools. One of the Full Service schools, Lillian Feinstein Sackett Street Elementary School, is included in their Together for Tomorrow application for the Providence Innovation Zone. Providence Mayor Angel Tavares has even elevated former FSCS director and Coalition Steering Committee member Rebecca Boxx to head the Children and Youth Cabinet for the city.
These community school initiatives continue to demonstrate the collective impact favored by education policy leaders.

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