The Community School strategy is a partnership facilitated by Family League in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, the Mayor’s Office and Baltimore City Council. A Community School (CS) is both a place and a set of strategic partnerships that promote student achievement, positive conditions for learning, and the well-being of families and communities.
The CS strategy is intentionally aligned with Out-Of-School Time (OST) programming. OST programs provide students with the opportunity to explore new ideas, build 21st century skills, find new talents, and experience success.
Through the work of a community-based partner, the Lead Agency (LA) leverages unique community resources to meet needs with a focus on children and families. A full-time Community School Coordinator (CSC) at each school coordinates resources and partnerships that transform a school into a hub of integrated service delivery, creating one seamless access point to critical supports.
Community Schools are guided by a bi-annual needs assessment and annually developed Action Plan, informed by the needs assessment, that is tailored to the unique needs of that school and identifies strategies for improvement in: Community Development, Family Engagement, Health and Social Supports, Youth Development, Enhanced Academics and Enrichment, and College and Career Readiness.
There are 45 Family League-funded Community Schools in Baltimore serving over 20,000 students in pre-kindergarten through high school. An additional 5 schools are designated as buy-in schools, meaning that while they are not funded by Family League, they are still part of the Community School strategy.
In the Baltimore Community School Strategy, there is intentional alignment between Community Schools and Out of School time (OST). There are 46 Family League-funded OST programs attached to community schools serving over 3,000 students in pre-kindergarten through high school. When youth participate in high quality school or community-based Out of School Time (OST) programs, they are likely to benefit in a myriad of ways. They explore new interests, develop positive relationships with peers and caring adults, receive academic support, take on challenging leadership roles and build a sense of self-esteem.
Family League funded comprehensive OST programs operate at minimum 12 hours per week and have an appropriate 15:1 student to staff ratio. Youth participating in these programs have access to nutritious supper/snack, diverse enrichments (STEM, art, sports etc.) and academic enrichment. In addition, families are engaged in multiple ways including attending academic workshops, student showcases and volunteering. Finally, all programs participate in Continuous Quality improvement processes through Weikart’s Center for Youth Program Quality.
Family League, along with Baltimore City Public Schools(“City Schools”), co-chairs the Community School Steering Committee as a group assembled to oversee the formal designation process, partnership development, conflict resolution and evaluation of Community Schools.