Full-Service Community Schools

The Community School model is an evidence-based school improvement strategy designed to help schools support students and their families so that they can fully engage in high-quality learning opportunities. According to the Partnership for the Future of Learning’s Community Schools Playbook, “Community schools are centers of flourishing communities where everyone belongs, works together, and thrives. They become hubs of their neighborhoods and communities, uniting families, educators, and community partners.” The Community School model helps schools to actively build strong webs of supports around the following four pillars:
  1. Integrated Student Supports – By coordinating critical supports at the school site, community schools ensure the needs of students and families are met with minimal disruption to the school day by coordinating critical supports at the school site. This, in turn, enables teachers to focus on instruction, knowing that there are other professionals attending to the nonacademic needs of their students. Primary health and dental care, mental health counseling services, juvenile crime prevention and rehabilitation, housing and homelessness prevention, childcare services, family education, and career counseling are common examples of integrated student supports.
  2. Enriched Learning Opportunities – Local and cultural experts collaborate with community schools to provide enriched learning experiences both in classrooms during the school day, and through added learning time before and after school, on weekends, and during summer vacation both at school and in the community. Such opportunities include community-based and culturally relevant lessons and activities that address real-world experiences and issues. These lessons provide students with engaging opportunities for personal and community development.
  3. Active Family, Student, and Community Engagement – Community schools build trust and partnership by actively attending to relationships with families, students and community leaders. These authentic relationships lead to active family engagement, which is essential to helping families be more involved in the decisions about their children’s education. Through active family engagement, the school can better understand and respond to persistent barriers and identify family and community assets. Students do better academically and socially when their parents and educators are working in partnership.
  4. School Leadership driven by Continuous Improvement – A shared commitment to collaborative leadership and practices creates opportunities for deeper, more trusting relationships between families and school staff and between teachers and administrators. These relationships strengthen the school’s ability to work with family and community members to create meaningful learning opportunities for students by bringing the local knowledge of the community into the school. These relationships also can help make sure that the supports and services address local needs. Deeper collaboration supports improved implementation of the entire strategy.

The 2015 Minnesota State Legislature passed legislation to establish the Full-Service Community Schools grant program. Grants totaling $500,000 were awarded to four schools in 2016 and another $1 million was awarded to nine schools in 2017.

Community Schools and Four Pillars Resources
These resources were selected to help you explore the Community Schools model, Community School Site Coordinator role, Collaborative Leadership Practices, Integrated Student Supports, Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities, and Active Family, Student, and Community Engagement. Inclusion on this list is meant as a suggestion and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of an organization, practice, or program.