Community Schools

The Coalition for Community Schools (Coalition) is an alliance of national, state, and local organizations in K-16 education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state, and local community school networks. The site provides an excellent primer on what community schools are, and also provides extensive information regarding the research and results of community schools. The site also has information specific to each state’s community schools legislation.

The Federation for Community Schools (Federation) believes all Illinois children should have equal access to a high quality education that supports their academic, physical, social, and emotional development. The Federation’s mission is preserve, promote, and sustain community schools through policy changes, professional development, and programmatic advancements. The Federation’s work and research on community schools is of particular interest. The site includes links to community school profiles, videos on their work, a map of community schools in Illinois, and supporting research and evaluations.

The National Center for Community Schools (Center) is dedicated to building the capacity of schools, districts, community partners and government agencies to organize their human and financial resources around student success. The Center does this work by providing practical, innovative training, consultation, facilitation, materials and advocacy. The Center helps develop comprehensive community schools and enhance existing school-community partnerships and currently have a number of clients in the Chicago area. In addition to the technical assistance the Center provides, their site contains a resource page with links to FAQs, newsletters, documents and tools, and a virtual site visit of the organization’s flagship community school.

Family Engagement

Be Strong Families (BSF) is national organization of parents working to strengthen families from the inside out. The network believes parents can be a force for social transformation and promotes the empowered engagement of vulnerable parents, youth, children, and extended family members to nurture the spirit of the family and promote well-being, healing, and peace. A specific initiative of BSF is Strengthening Families Illinois, a statewide movement to build six Protective Factors that keep families strong. The network is made up of parent leaders that are working to mobilize thousands of families in their communities. The site provides information on training opportunities and resources specific to parents.

Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) is an organization of leaders, primarily mothers and grandmothers, that has trained thousands of parents in tough neighborhoods. COFI’s mission is to strengthen the power and voice of low-income and working families at all levels of civic life – from local institutions and communities to state and federal policy arenas. COFI’s website provides significant resources and information for how parents can get trained and engaged in this work. COFI’s innovative parent leadership and community organizing model, Family Focused Organizing, has engaged thousands of low-income African American and Latino parents in improving preschools, schools, communities and public policies in Chicago, Illinois and beyond.

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) challenges leaders at all levels to shake off their institutional constraints and work across boundaries to address the needs of young people and their families. IEL’s tools and resource page provides a tremendous amount of information including online guidance, draft frameworks on community schools, reports on community schools and best practices, and information specific to leaders of community schools. Their our work page provides links to information on leadership, professional development, innovative strategies, and featured initiatives.