National University and School Districts Awarded $14.9 Million to Expand Research-based Community School Model

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Read the release from National University here.

National University, which houses one of the largest colleges of education in the United States and is the largest provider of teaching credentials in California, today announced it received $14.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education to bring a nationally-recognized school model to high-need elementary, middle, and high schools in San Diego County. Through the five-year grant, the university as the grantee will provide community services to National School District and San Marcos Unified School District to implement full-service community programs, which integrate extended academic, social, health, and workforce development services through the university and community-based organizations.

“To ensure every learner has the opportunity to achieve their full educational potential, we need to create the conditions for healthy learning, which in many cases means understanding the challenges that students and their families may be experiencing outside the classroom,” said Dr. Robert Lee, dean of the Sanford College of Education, an expert in partnerships between community-based organizations and schools who founded the National Center for Urban Education at Illinois State University early in his career. “The power of the community school model is that it creates a single stop for multiple wraparound services that make it possible to meet the complex needs of children, families and communities.”

Interest in the community school model has accelerated in recent years, in part to help combat the impact of COVID-19 learning loss on K-12 student achievement. In 2023, federal investment in community school programs climbed to its highest level on record, and states have ramped up support with billions in funding. Research shows a strong evidence base for the model: a RAND study found improved attendance and student achievement at New York City community schools, while a study of community schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico found a $7 Return on Investment for every $1 invested in community school support.

Through a five-year project entitled Project ENLACES (Engaging a Network of Locally Accessible Community Establishments and Schools), the project will build Full-Service Community School programs at five high-need schools serving predominantly low-income neighborhoods and English language learners. The project was one of just 30 competitive grants awarded across the country, and one of three within the state of California.”

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