Join the Federation for Community Schools and the ACT Now Coalition as we head to Springfield to educate elected officials and policy makers about community schools, and advocate for support for afterschool programs, a fair and equitable budget, and adequate state revenue.
Please plan to join us for an important opportunity to share your work with state-level decision makers, and to make sure they know how cuts in the state budget will impact children and families in their districts. We will provide materials, advocacy tools and pointers, and a training session before we start our visits.
If you'd like more information or have additional questions, please contact Melissa Mitchell or Kelley Talbot.
Sign-up now to join us for Advocacy Day in Springfield
The Coalition for Community Schools has created an on-line directory that will include all types of community schools and will serve as a networking tool to connect you with others building community schools in your city, state, and across the country. This directory will offer critical information to guide our collective advocacy efforts and strengthen our local and national community school movements.
With over 175 community schools at various levels of development, Illinois is currently leading the way in this national movement. We encourage our members to add their community schools to the directory so we can ensure that the breadth of work underway in Illinois is accurately represented at the national level.
Sites that complete the directory will get a "summary report" that can be used with your leadership team for planning and growth. Sign up today!
Illinois is in the middle of determining its FY16 budget. As many of you already know, Governor Rauner proposed a budget that included significant cuts to funding that community schools and the students and families you serve rely on, including eliminating Teen REACH, limiting Child Care Assistance Program funding to children 5 and under, eliminating some services for homeless youth, and changes to medical coverage. All of these proposed changes are designed to alleviate the state's fiscal crisis, but will have significant negative impacts on children, families, and vulnerable residents.
Lisa Christensen Gee, policy analyst for the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, joined us earlier this week to provide a breakdown of the Governor's budget proposal, our state budget structure, and how we ended up in this situation.
So here's the deal. We are in this situation, in part, because the state does not generate enough revenue to enable it to live up to the obligations it has to residents. We don't just need a budget with fewer cuts to supports for children and families-we also need a tax structure that generates the revenue the state needs in a fair and equitable way.
Without these changes, children and families will face significant challenges, and so will community schools. Even if you do not rely on state-funded programs in your community schools, it's safe to say that many of the families you support do, and many of your partners may, too. The impact on your work could be direct - your agency loses state funding it depends on, a partner facing the same situation can't continue to provide supports - and it could be indirect, in the form of increased demand for services and supports from students and families who have lost access to resources because of the state's budget cuts.
The good news is that Governor Rauner's budget proposal is not set in stone. The General Assembly is currently developing its own set of budget recommendations - and it is critical that they hear directly from people impacted by their decisions.
What can you do?
- - Join us for Advocacy Day: Spend April 29th in Springfield, sharing with elected officials why it's critical for the state to have adequate revenue, and a budget that doesn't unfairly impact children, families and vulnerable residents
- - Tweet about your work using the hashtags #communityschools, #twill, #nocuts, #teenREACH.
- - Schedule a site visit when elected officials are on break - meet them in their offices, or invite them to visit your schools. This site visit toolkit will show you how!
On February 9th nearly 50 community school professionals gathered to learn strategies for laying a solid community school foundation that supports long-term success and sustainability.
If you were able to join us, please don't forget to complete this brief evaluation. Your feedback helps us continually refine and improve our workshops.
Those who were unable to attend can read more below to find some of the tools and resources that were shared.
- - Learn more about the Community Schools Initiative at CPS, including information about the Implementation and Sustainability Process Strategy (ISPS).
- - CPS created this sample Program Registration Form (available in Spanish, as well) that can be used or adapted for your community school programs.
- - Become a member of the Federation for Community Schools to learn more about our events, including our upcoming Building Community through Twitter training series and to access our tools and resources like the advisory board development tools that were discussed.
- - The national Coalition for Community Schools also has many tools and resources that might be helpful in your work. This also where Resource Coordinators can sign-up for the RC Network to connect, learn from, and share ideas with RCs from around the country.
- - If you're particularly interested in parent engagement, consider attending the National Family and Community Engagement conference which will be held in Chicago this June.
On January 15 the Federation partnered with Dr. Barbara Radner from the Polk Bros. Foundation Center for Urban Education at DePaul University to offer the PARCC Preview for Community Schools and Partner Organization. This orientation to PARCC provided partner organizations with an understanding of PARCC and how they can support student achievement on this new standardized assessment.
On November 14, 2014 we held our 10th Annual Community Schools Forum, Harnessing the Power of Partnership to Promote Equity through Community Schools. This year's event brought together nearly 300 community school practitioners - from California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin - who came to learn from each other and from experts in their fields about the ways community schools can and should be equity drivers. Through 30 workshops, a plenary panel, recognition of outstanding community school leaders and opportunities to participate in advocacy efforts, including demonstrating support for community schools on social media, we worked together to enhance and strengthen our collective community school efforts. Thank you to all of our presenters, planners, and supporters for helping to make the day so successful!