Coalition for Community Schools - Because Every Child Deserves Every Chance

Part One: What a Community School Looks Like




A community school is a place and a set of partnerships connecting school, family, and community. A community school is distinguished by its integrated focus on academics, youth development, family support, health and social services, and community development. Its curriculum emphasizes real-world learning through community problem-solving and service. By extending the school day and week, it reaches families and community residents. The community school is uniquely equipped to develop its students into educated citizens ready and able to give back to their communities and to strengthen families and communities.

Community schools are built on a fundamental premise—that every child and every school is capable of excellence given the right conditions for learning. A community schools strategy creates the culture and structure needed to ensure fulfillment of the following six conditions:

  • Early childhood development programs are available to nurture growth and development.
  • The school offers a core instructional program delivered by qualified teachers; instruction is organized around a challenging curriculum anchored by high standards and expectations for students.
  • Students are motivated and engaged in learning—in both school and community settings— before, during, and after school and in the summer.
  • The basic physical, mental, and emotional health needs of young people and their families are recognized and addressed.
  • Parents, families, and school staff demonstrate mutual respect and engage in effective collaboration.
  • Community engagement, together with school efforts, promotes a school climate that is safe, supportive, and respectful and that connects students to a broader learning community.

Of course, schools cannot create these conditions on their own. They require strategic partnerships among schools, partner agencies, families, and community members. A community schools strategy leverages, coordinates, and maximizes resources, often including a coordinator to manage day-to-day activities at each school site.

Partnerships with community agencies, cultural institutions, colleges and universities, foundations, and others expand the number and type of learning opportunities available to help children master skills and content. These opportunities are directly aligned with the children’s academic curriculum while broadening their interests and developing their talents. By engaging families and community partners with school staff in designing and participating in activities, a community schools strategy fosters shared ownership and collective trust. Referring to a community schools coordinator on loan from a community partner, one principal described that individual’s function by stating, "We are joined at the hip. We work together to make sure every student gets what they need. She works on the social supports and I work on the instruction and together, we make it work." Support for students extends to support for families.


Guide Home - IntroductionPart I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Appendix - Tools

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