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From Community Schools to Community Districts: Building Systems for Student Success

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Basketball star LeBron James just launched a new public school in Akron, Ohio, promising an on-site food bank, job placement assistance for parents, free breakfast and lunch, and support for students with chronic stress—in addition to free college and accelerated academic support. While billed as an exciting new approach to educating underserved youth, the school employs a long-standing and growing strategy called “community schools.” By leveraging community resources and providing supports that go beyond academic instruction to students and families, community schools have reduced chronic absenteeism, raised student achievement, and helped families find stable housing, food, and medical assistance.

Faced with clear need among students and families, and promising models at the individual school level, a growing number of school district leaders are taking the community schools strategy to scale. This year, roughly 100 communities are investing in a community schools strategy, and six states already have a policy framework in place to support the strategy. The nation’s largest school district, New York City, will soon have 215 community schools, serving more than 100,000 students.

Join us and our partners at the Coalition for Community Schools, Communities In Schools, and the Learning Policy Institute for a conversation with leaders on the cutting edge of this exciting work. We will discuss how to implement a community schools strategy at scale and how local and state education policy can support this strategy.