A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR UNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Urban Strategies Council created A Resource Guide for Understanding Community Schools as part of its efforts to support those interested in or currently in the process of building a community school or community school district. We believe community schools are a powerful vehicle for transforming communities, and have created the resource guide to provide individuals and stakeholders a wealth of information that will aid the community school planning and building process.
Community School Characteristics
The community school strategy is a set of partnerships that organizes community resources and builds community-school partnerships to support thriving students while building stronger families and healthier communities. This section provides an introduction to the unique characteristics of community schools and how these components address the underlying factors affecting academic outcomes and other crucial measures of student success. The section addresses questions around the structure, programs, services and core elements of a community school and community school district.
Community School Planning and Design
There are numerous components of the community school planning and design process, some of which include a collaborative leadership structure, community engagement, and a community needs assessment. This section explores the general planning and design structures for community schools, the initial steps and core components of the planning and design process, as well as strategies for scaling up community schools. It lays out a blueprint for successful community school initiatives and helps map out the strategy, framework and process to sustain them.
Equity and Community Schools
Equity is a concept implicit in community schools; however, most community schools do not explicitly use an equity framework as part of the strategy. This section examines equity frameworks and tools that have been applied to or can be adapted to the community school strategy.
In a community school, all stakeholders share opportunities for leadership roles and are meaningfully engaged, active participants in many aspects of decision-making. Collaborative leadership brings together partners and stakeholders to coordinate a range of services and opportunities for youth, families and the community. This section explores how collaborative leadership works on a site, district, and state level to carry out the community school strategy.
Family and Community Engagement
Family and community engagement consists of reciprocal interactions between schools, families, and the community, working together to create networks of shared responsibility for student success. At community schools, community and family engagement creates shared accountability and a more participatory decision-making process. This section explores how families and communities are mobilized around community schools, how family and community engagement operates at school sites, and challenges and promising practices for family and community engagement.
Data Collection & Analysis
Data collection and analysis is integral to planning, refining and sustaining the work of community schools. It serves a multifunctional purpose by informing the selection and coordination of programs, services and operational elements at community schools while creating visibility and fostering positive public relations through demonstrated outcomes. This section addresses community school outcomes, data collection methods, indicators and data analysis frameworks.
Assessment tools measure outcomes linked to the effectiveness of community school programs, services, and structure. This section includes assessment tools used to measure outcomes, and explores the purpose of each tool and how they can be applied to the community school strategy.
Community School Evaluations
Reviewing community school evaluations helps those interested in or planning community school initiatives understand the successes, challenges and limitations of the community school strategy. This section explores the methods and models used by community schools to conduct their evaluations, as well as each initiative’s outcomes and alignment with its vision. The information highlighted in this section includes the methodology, indicators of success, findings, trends, challenges and promising practices revealed in community school evaluations.
Community School Funding
Funding community school initiatives is one of the most difficult components of the planning, implementation and scaling up process. This section highlights how community schools identify revenue streams, allocate resources, and leverage revenue streams to sustain successful community school initiatives. It also explores sources of federal, state and local funding that align with various community school components and have the potential to be leveraged for specific programs and services.
This section explores budget tools that aid the process of identifying resources, funding gaps, projected costs and fiscal mapping for community schools and related initiatives. The highlighted information includes various uses and promising practices for budgeting.
Community School Sustainability
Sustaining and scaling up community school initiatives ensures that the community school strategy will leave a lasting impact on the youth, families and communities that it aims to serve and empower. This section explores community school sustainability plans, partnership development, and the strategic leveraging of resources for the future.
About the Guide
In the resource guide, you will find eleven categories that are foundational to understanding community schools. Each of these categories includes a literature review organized around core questions pertaining to each topic, as well as an annotated bibliography highlighting key themes, tools, models and promising practices. In order to create the resource guide, we reviewed over 175 evaluations, reports, case studies and briefs from the last twenty years of research and documentation of community school and related education initiatives in the United States. We specifically chose to include only publicly accessible resources, so that those interested in using the guide would not have to pay or subscribe to private journals, clearinghouses or websites in order to access the original source of information.
Updating the Guide
Urban Strategies Council will continue its efforts to update the Resource Guide with the most current information as it becomes available. If you know of topics or resources that are not currently included in this guide, please contact Alison Feldman, Education Excellence Program, at alisonf (at) urbanstrategies.org. We welcome your ideas and feedback.Back to the top