community_schools_logoWhat is a Community School?

Hartford Community Schools implement a national strategy for aligning resources to support student achievement, strengthen families and build stronger communities. With a focus on extended days and hours, students, families and the broader community are invited to make use of the school site as a place for learning, recreation and neighborhood building.

Hartford Community Schools represent a comprehensive approach for improving academic achievement by coordinating the services and supports that students need to be successful in school, while supporting the development of healthy families and communities.

How are Community Schools different?

At a community school, a lead agency partners with the school to provide and coordinate programs and services to support the academic success of all students. The goals and priorities outlined in the school’s improvement plan serve to identify the needs of the school that partners can support. The lead agency works closely with the principal to plan, implement and sustain on-site services that provide a holistic approach to well-being and development for students, their families and the wider community. The community school is at the center of the community and are open beyond regular school hours. Nationally, it has been demonstrated that these supports lead to improved attendance and academic performance.

These services include:

  • Health Services – medical, dental and vision screening services as well as sports and recreational activities
  • Mental Health Services – clinical services, case management, crisis interventions and specialized referrals
  • Youth Development/Out-of-School Time – safe school buildings are open for extended days and hours, providing youth development and leadership programming, academic enrichment, homework help, tutoring, recreational, cultural and summer school programs
  • Life-Long Learning – adult education opportunities include English as a Second Language, GED courses, financial literacy and technology classes
  • Parent Enrichment/Engagement – schools involve parents in meaningful ways through family dinners/PTO meetings, effective communication, parenting workshops, cultural events and civic engagement opportunities
  • Community Engagement – effective partnerships with residents, volunteers, local and private businesses and civic organizations promote the development of the community and stability of the neighborhood.

The impact of external influences on a student’s ability to perform has been acknowledged for a long time. By recognizing the student as part of a family, and part of a larger community, the Community Schools model addresses the comprehensive needs of school-age youth. School choice is not simply about variety. It is about responding to the diverse needs of Hartford’s students, and creating opportunities for the community at large to engage with our schools. Community Schools play a valuable role in our district-wide commitment to providing today’s students with the foundation to build a stronger future.

Are Community Schools effective?

There are many national and local studies and evaluations available that support the effectiveness of the national community schools model. A recent 2017 brief by the Learning Policy Institute examines the research on community schools and has determined that the model is indeed an evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/community-schools-equitable-improvement-brief

Who supports Community Schools?

For more than a decade the Hartford Partnership for Student Success (HPSS) the core of which includes the City of Hartford, Hartford Public Schools, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut has supported the implementation of Community Schools. The aim of HPSS is to provide resources, technical support and expertise to positively impact educational outcomes, experiences, and opportunities for all Hartford students. The full partnership, inclusive of a broad representation of stakeholders, recently expanded to include private sector organizations and new funders, such as the Fund for Greater Hartford.

HPSS’ commitment to implement the Community Schools strategy has been demonstrated over the years by its support in developing, funding, and providing strategic direction and technical assistance to a cohort of 7 schools. It has created an infrastructure which includes staff capacities, a shared budget, a governance structure, a memorandum of understanding, Hartford Public Schools board policy, a comprehensive theory of change, a common funding application process and policies and procedures that ensure continuous improvement. External evaluation data highlights gains made over the years. Two examples are continued improvement in both reading and math standardized test scores by participants in the after-school program, compared to students who did not participate. Those who have persisted in the after-school program, over time show the strongest academic performance. Significant improvement also has been demonstrated among cohorts of academically “at-risk” students connected to programs or services targeted to their needs. Ten years of successful implementation now serves as a basis for a broader and deeper emphasis on the Community Schools strategy as a means of ensuring academic success for all students.

Future Leaders of Our Communities

School choice is not simply about variety. It is about responding to the diverse needs of Hartford’s students, and creating opportunities for the community at large to engage with our schools. Community Schools play a valuable role in our district-wide commitment to providing today’s youth with the foundation to build a stronger future.

Which schools are Community Schools?

One of the key district priorities in Hartford Public Schools’ 2018-2022 strategic plan, the District Model for Excellence, is a commitment to family and community partnerships. One major goal outlined within that priority area is to progressively work towards creating community schools at all school sites by 2022. This will be accomplished through leveraging partnerships and building on a solid foundation of local and national best practices and lessons learned over the past 10 years. The existing cohort of community schools within the current Hartford Community Schools Network are as follows:

School: Alfred E. Burr Elementary School
Principal: Ashley Martin
Lead Agency: The Village for Families and Children
Community School Director: Barbara Vita
School Phone: 860.695.3080

School: Asian Studies Academy at Bellizzi
Principal: Anthony Davila
Lead Agency: COMPASS Youth Collaborative
Community School Director: Damion Morgan
School Phone: 860.695.2400

School: Burns Latino Studies Academy
Principal: Victor Cristafaro
Lead Agency: COMPASS Youth Collaborative Community
School Director: Anthony Daddona
School Phone: 860.695.2980

School: Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA)
Principal: Sally Biggs
Lead Agency: COMPASS Youth Collaborative
Community School Director: Jessica White
School Phone: 860.695.7201

School: Museum Academy at Wish (a partnership school)
Principal: Keisha Ryan
Lead Agency: The Village for Families and Children
Director: Trisila Tirado
School Phone: 860.695.5600

School: Thirman L. Milner School
Principal: Leonardo Watson
Lead Agency: Catholic Charities
Community School Director: Michael Gonzales
School Phone: 860.695.4380

School: West Middle School
Principal: Lynn Estey Lead Agency: Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford
Community School Director: Joseph Bumpers
School Phone: 860.695.5484

For more information, please contact:

Nuchette Black-Burke, M.Ed., Chief of Outreach & Engagement

(860) 695-8748

Nuchette.Black-Burke@hartfordschools.org