Through its Strong Neighborhoods partnerships, United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO) is engaging in a Community Schools Collective Impact effort in the Linden neighborhood feeder pattern aimed at getting the conditions right for learning for the nearly 2,300 students attending Linden schools. The Linden Community Schools Network is a coalition of organizations, including Columbus City Schools (CCS), the City of Columbus, Ohio State University (OSU), and UWCO, who are united in their vision for transforming the Linden Community into a vibrant, thriving, safe, and welcoming anchor for Columbus as a City of Opportunity. Together, these partners have pledged to support the children and families of the greater Linden neighborhood in overcoming the severe challenges they face as a result of historic, enduring marginalization. TO do this, each partner is committed to the implementation of the Community Collaboration Model for School Improvement (CCMSI) which seeks to maximize school and community resources to support students and families in Linden. These efforts have been focused on having the schools serve as the hubs of support for the community. In this approach, an explicit agenda guides the development of school-family-community partnerships to support academic learning, promote school climate and positive youth development, engage and support parents/guardians and families, address non-academic barriers through health and social services, and promote school-linked partnership with entities in the community (such as the business sector). Currently, the work is being implemented in Hamilton STEM K-6, and Windsor STEM K-6.
The CCMSI aims to align to each school’s annual school improvement plan (SIP). To support schools in implementing and adopting the CCMSI, milestones schools move through and revisit provide guidance.
Phases in the CCMSI Implementation & Adoption include:
- Engaging the School & Community
- Initial school-wide CCMSI teams may include district, school, community and family representation that differ than traditional school teams to include internal school stakeholders.
- Commitment from all stakeholders gains buy-in to the process, increases knowledge of strategies and implementation of change and brings value to the model adoption.
- Needs/Resource Assessment & Gap Analysis
- As a collaborative group the school, community and families assess the current needs of the youth and community across several measures. The process differs from traditional assessments that only include academic and socioeconomic data, failing to consider context and connection to health & social services, youth development avenues, and parent engagement opportunities. Schools at this point organize existing resources and programs across the CCMSI logic model along the five pathways.
- The use of new data outside of the academic gaps allows schools to consider the individual and resource needs of the school. Schools look at current data, resources and needs in order to identify priorities to address gaining resources for home, school, and community contexts. During the analysis, specific priorities emerge across the five pathways emphasizing where additional individual level and community level supports are needed.
- Resource/Program Development & Implementation Efforts
- Similar to traditional school improvement models top priorities are decided on. However, unique to the CCMSI the priorities have a clear place in the improvement process and link to increasing academic and well-being outcomes for youth. Schools may re-align resources and responsibilities to address gaps across Academic Learning, Youth Development and School Climate, Health and Social Services, Parent and Family Engagement and Community Partnerships. The programs needed do not function as add-on programs but instead become an integrated and intentional effective method to reducing or increasing the desired outcome.
- Partnership, Collaborative Leadership & Infrastructure Development
- As priorities are set and addressed, new partnerships focused on what is available are formed simultaneously. The school, home and community resources are compiled to support system-level change that will be effective and lasting. The piece missing from traditional models of improvement is the shared accountability for student success through this collaborative partnership. The level of involvement of partners before and after implementation may change as partners come to understand the needs of the school and community. As partners and leaders work alongside one another instead of compete against schools are able to receive and implement a greater number of services and programs for youth and families.
- Evaluation, Continuous Improvement & Management
- Schools continue to develop strategies and programs to provide wraparound services to meet needs of youth inside and outside of the school day. Evaluation of these programs, strategies and services are crucial to continuous improvement and adjustment based on the responses of all stakeholders. Schools link the process of adoption and implementation into the school’s annual improvement plan to sustain the implementation.
The Community and Youth Collaborative Institute at The Ohio State University (CAYCI-OSU) is engaged in technical assistance, evaluation, infrastructure support and other capacity building roles. In each school a School-Family-Community Coordinator (SFCC) works to build partnerships, facilitate buy-in, support infrastructure and overall CCMSI progress through each milestone. Lastly, product and process innovations, school report card indicators, and expanded school improvement metrics also provide progress measures. Key successes include many new and strengthened partnerships, strengthening of staff knowledge of the CCMSI, and addition of new health and social service supports. New resources included many in-kind donations, such as 12 tables from United Way Partners, $625 worth of Hawk Nest School/Parent Store (Hawk Nest) resources, 485 first-aid bags from CVS, and approximately $4,744 in-kind gifts and supplies for the inaugural Hamilton Mingle Jingle.