Family League of Baltimore announced it is one of only two multi-site initiatives receiving a National Community Schools Award of Excellence by the Coalition for Community Schools for its Baltimore Community Schools initiative, which Family League operates in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools and with support from the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. Three individual Baltimore City schools are also receiving national recognition.
Baltimore, MD-May, 2015
Family League of Baltimore today announced it is the recipient of a National Community Schools Award for Excellence from the Coalition for Community Schools. The award honors the Family League-led Baltimore Community Schools, which Family League operates in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools and with support from the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. Family League is one of only two multi-site community schools initiatives recognized nationally this year by the Coalition.
Baltimore Community Schools is a network of 45 public schools in Baltimore City, each of which provide a wide range of supportive services before, during and out of school that promote student achievement, strengthen families and build healthy communities. Using the school as an anchor and hub for resources and services, Baltimore Community Schools focuses on creating positive and safe climates for learning, enriching the learning experience through after-school and summer programs, and reducing absenteeism and drop-out rates.
“We are drawing on every asset in our community in a coordinated way, inside and outside of school, to help students be successful,” said Family League of Baltimore President and CEO Jonathon Rondeau. “Family League couldn’t be happier to have Baltimore recognized for leading the way, and we are doing all we can to bring more Baltimore City schools into the network.” Baltimore Community Schools currently consists of 14 elementary schools, 22 K-8 or Pre-K-8 schools, three middle schools and six high schools, and serves close to 22,000 of Baltimore City Public School’s nearly 85,000 students. Nearly 85 percent of City students are living in poverty.
The primary source of funding for Baltimore Community Schools is the Mayor’s office, with more than 10 other organizations including the State of Maryland, foundations and nonprofits providing additional support. The Baltimore City Council recently passed a resolution supporting an increased municipal investment for community schools and out-of-schools programs to $10 million, a $4 million increase over the current year investment.
“Family League’s partnership with the Mayor and City Schools represents the best of what can happen when a community comes together to support its students and families,” said Martin Blank, Director of the Coalition for Community Schools. “This partnership’s commitment to Baltimore is getting results and creating positive momentum. We could not be more thrilled to give them the 2015 Award for Excellence.”
Each Baltimore community school employs a full-time community school coordinator who plays a key role in leveraging the support from community partners into the school that ultimately provides students with exceptional physical and mental health supports, after-school programs, and access to food, among other services. More specifically, community schools in Baltimore are credited with helping to increase after-school program participation, promote higher attendance rates, reduce chronic absenteeism, decrease suspensions, increase parent engagement, create a more supportive environment for students and families, and ultimately prepare students to be more ready to learn. Additional details on the impact of community schools in Baltimore are outlined in a recent study conducted by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium.
Among the five individual schools also recognized by the Coalition for Community Schools are three Baltimore City schools – Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove, The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School and Wolfe Street Academy – all of which are part of the Baltimore Community Schools network.
- Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove moved from one of the city’s lowest performing high schools to one of Baltimore’s top choice high schools between 2011 and 2015. From an early childhood education program for parenting teens to workforce development for community members, a network of over 75 partners customize responses to needs presented by students and families. Additionally, students clocked more than 17,000 service learning hours last school year and are credited with stopping the building of a waste incinerator near their campus through community organizing.
- The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School has over 95 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunch. Since becoming a community school in 2011, they have seen their school readiness scores rise. Teachers and staff made over 100 home visits last year and over 200 teachers from Taylor and other Baltimore schools participated in trauma-informed behavior management skills trainings through the school’s partnership with the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
- Wolfe Street Academy in Baltimore has moved from the 77th to the 2nd highest performing elementary school in Baltimore since adopting the community schools strategy nine years ago. Because of the strategy, students have greater access to after-school learning opportunities through ExpandED, student mobility (the rate of transfers and withdrawals within a school year) has decreased from 46.6 percent to 8.8 percent in eight years, and average daily attendance is 96 percent.
On June 10, Family League of Baltimore and the other honorees will accept their awards in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will be followed by visits to Capitol Hill as part of Community School Advocacy Day.
Learn more about Baltimore Community Schools here. To learn more about the Coalition for Community Schools and the National Community Schools Award for Excellence, visit http://www.communityschools.org.
About Family League of Baltimore
Family League of Baltimore develops and implements collaborative solutions to help struggling, hard-working Baltimore families and children achieve their dreams of a better life. Family League was established in 1991 as Baltimore’s Local Management Board to manage and deploy government funds that strengthen children and families. The organization serves as an architect of change, leveraging relationships with public and private entities, as well as convening stakeholders from local government, the funding community and direct service organizations to bring together financial support and a shared vision for education and hunger that benefit the children and families of Baltimore. Learn more about Family League of Baltimore at http://www.familyleague.org.
About the Coalition for Community Schools
The Coalition for Community Schools is an alliance of national, state and local organizations in education K-16, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, higher education institutions, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks. The Coalition advocates for community schools as the vehicle for strengthening schools, families and communities so that together they can improve student learning. It is a program of the Institute for Educational Leadership.