What Is a Community School?

A Community School is a partnership between school staff, families, youth, and the community to raise student achievement by ensuring that children are physically, emotionally, and socially prepared to learn. A Community School serves as a center of the neighborhood by providing access to critical programs and services like health care, mentoring, expanded learning programs, adult education, and other services that support the whole child, engage families, and strengthen the entire community. In the NYC Community School approach, each school is paired with a lead Community Based Organization (CBO) partner that works collaboratively with the principal and the School Leadership Team (SLT) to carry out the work at the school.

resources available in community schools including health services, academics, and afterschool

Community Schools in Practice

Every Community School is different and reflects the strengths and needs of its students, families, and local community. However, the best and most successful Community Schools all share common features which support student learning:

  • School leadership has a clear instructional vision and high expectations for all students.
  • Schools implement a collaborative school governance structure that includes a lead CBO partner and members of the School Leadership Team.
  • Parents and the community help design and plan the community school according to its strengths and needs, and parents and caregivers are real and active partners in their children's education.
  • Expanded learning time includes academic interventions and enrichment activities and is aligned with school-day curriculum and expectations.
  • Youth development is integrated across academics, programs and services.
  • Mental health, medical, and social services are available to students who need them.
  • Community members are engaged in activities that help build a stronger school community.
  • Family members have access to education opportunities and programs that strengthen families.

Read more about Community School Policy.

How Do We Know Community Schools Work?

National studies have found that strong community schools have higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates; higher student attendance; higher reading and math scores; improved school climate, including teacher morale and student behavior; greater parent engagement; and lower rates of neighborhood crime and violence.

Read more about research supporting the Community School model.