Community schools

This school model focuses on leveraging and coordinating the resources and voices of the entire community to support a thriving educational environment.

Children planting a plant outdoors with help from woman teacher.

Community schools transform a school into a place where educators, local community members, families, and students work together to strengthen conditions for student learning and healthy development. As partners, they organize in- and out-of-school resources and opportunities so that young people thrive. The school community, led by a community school coordinator/manager, works to develop a vision and goals for the school, student and family well-being, and student learning.

There is a significant and growing interest in community schools among federal, state, and local governments seeking to advance educational and economic opportunities and address historic educational inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Building off this momentum, four national partners—the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools, the Coalition for Community Schools at IEL, and the Learning Policy Institute—collaborated with education practitioners, researchers, and leaders across the United States to strengthen the community schools field in a joint project called Community Schools Forward. Community Schools Forward comprises three core strategies:

  • Align: Foster increased cohesion around core community school concepts and frameworks.
  • Scale: Identify investment structures that sustain community schools at scale and for the long term.
  • Build: Design infrastructure for technical assistance and professional learning that promotes high-quality implementation.