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Massachusetts State-wide School-Community Partnerships Meeting a Huge Success

More than 250 educators, community partners, higher education staff, and others from across Massachusetts gathered on November 21 for a full-day statewide event focused on growing and deepening school-community partnerships. The event, titled "Real Partnerships, Real Change: Improving Student Outcomes Through School-Community Partnerships" was co-hosted by the Coalition for Community Schools along with the Massachusetts Child & Youth Readiness Cabinet, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Massachusetts Full-Service Schools Roundtable, the School & Main Institute, and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.

The conference was part of the Coalition’s effort to promote scale up of community schools across the country.

Coalition Director and Institute for Educational Leadership President Martin Blank spoke about the community schools strategy at the national level, and Hedy Chang, Director of Attendance Works, focused on chronic absence as a leading indicator of student success that requires strong school-community partnerships if it is be reduced..

Massachusetts Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services-Matthew Malone and John Polanowicz, respectively-came by to lend their support speaking about the need for partnerships at the state and local level to improve academic and health outcomes for children, families and communities.

Participants self-selected breakout sessions including: Working at a System Level (featuring the community schools strategies in Hartford, CT and Providence, RI) and What Deep Partnership Work Looks Like at a School, among others. Participants concluded the day by exploring how to build a sustained statewide effort focused on deep school-community partnerships.

Attendees included those already immersed in full-service community schools work, such as Holyoke Public Schools, those doing similar work through state initiatives such as the Wraparound Zone Initiative-funded through Race to the Top funds-and those whose schools may not currently have robust partnerships or a clear partnership strategy and came to learn and connect with colleagues to bring these strategies back to their sites.

The Coalition is encouraged by the success of this event and the leadership of the Massachusetts Full-Service Schools Roundtable to advance school-community partnerships both across the state. We look forward to working with stakeholders in Massachusetts to grow and strengthen these partnerships and the community schools strategy statewide.

If you would like to plan a similar event in your state to grow community schools please contact Mary Kingston, the Coalition’s Public Policy Manager at kingstonm@iel.org


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