Philanthropy’s Role in the Growing Community Schools Movement

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Part of the growth in interest and appreciation came about as a result of COVID-19, as community schools were able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of students and families after the pandemic hit. “Our schools were made for this,” one school district administrator told the Hechinger Report.

Even so, as with virtually all movements in K-12 education, community schools have advanced thanks to the work of some devoted advocates and their funders. One of those advocates is José Muñoz, director of the Coalition for Community Schools (CCS), who could barely contain his exuberance as he described the growing support. CCS has helped foster community schools for the last 25 years, but its recent national conference had more attendees than ever, he said, and the excitement among those in the field is palpable. “It’s an idea from 1902, and after many years, it’s an idea that’s time has come.”

Muñoz underscores philanthropy’s role in getting to this place. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation was an early advocate of community schools; other education funders that have championed the concept include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Stuart Foundation and the Ballmer Group. Muñoz hopes funders will continue to play a major role going forward, as the model is replicated in schools around the country. “It’s a critical time for philanthropy to help keep our movement together,” he said.

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