We are inching closer to June 30th, the end of FY15 and the July 1st deadline for the state to have a signed FY16 budget. It is unclear whether the Governor and the General Assembly will have agreed on a budget by July 1st, and partners and providers should be preparing for the possibility that the state will not have a budget in place by July 1st and funding for programs will either stop or won't start with the fiscal year. We also need not just a signed FY16 budget, but one that includes adequate revenue generation so as to maintain critical supports for children and families. We need a fair, equitable budget that is not balanced on the backs of vulnerable residents, and we need it by July 1st.
It is vital the members of the General Assembly and the Governor hear directly from people impacted by the budget impasse. Should the state not have a signed budget by July 1st, many of the supports and services that your communities rely on will be interrupted.
We need to make our voices heard with General Assembly members and the Governor. There's a sense that some of our General Assembly members aren't feeling the sense of urgency around adequate revenue and a timely budget - we need to make sure that they hear from all of us about the impacts that a delayed, inadequately funded budget will have on children, families, and services providers in their districts.
Learn more about the state budget and steps you can take to advocate.
Each of the 7 winners, which include both individual schools and multi-site community initiatives, brings a unique story of success. Organized to respond to local conditions, these awardees are tackling some of today's most pressing issues that influence young people's development - poverty, safety, and equitable access to opportunities. They demonstrate how public schools can become community hubs that bring together educators, families, and community partners to offer a range of opportunities and supports to families, communities, and young people.
John Hancock College Preparatory High School in Chicago was an award recipient. Through its partnership with Youth Guidance, Hancock has increased its social-emotional support for students, through programs like Becoming A Man (BAM), as well as enrichment opportunities that enable students to exercise leadership skills. It is paying off in the form of attendance rates increasing from 70 percent in 2010 to 90% last year, decreased dropout rates, and the five-year graduation rate improving by 20%. All their efforts combined have led to academic gains and a positive school climate and culture.
Click here to learn more about the National Community Schools Awards for Excellence and additional awardees.
Many thanks to the 130+ participants who joined us (in person or virtually) in Springfield on April 29 for our Community Schools & Afterschool Programs Advocacy Day hosted in partnership with the ACT Now Coalition. Program staff, parents, and students from Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Champaign-Ford ROE, Elev8 Chicago / Mikva Challenge, Family Focus, ICOY, Illinois Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, MFS, Project Success of Vermillion County, The Jackson Initiative, YMCA, and Youth with a Positive Direction collectively met with 74 elected officials.
Participants carried the messages that afterschool and community schools are essential and spoke out against cuts to Teen REACH programs which keep kids safe and engaged, improve academic outcomes and support working families. To illustrate the impact of the Good Friday cuts, BPNC delivered letters from students effected by the suspension of Teen REACH to Gov. Rauner.
Good Friday Cuts Reversed
The efforts of a wide range of stakeholders impacted by the Good Friday cuts were ultimately successful as the Governor announced on April 30 that he was reversing the cuts. Though this is a critical victory for us and the youth and families we serve, the fight continues as efforts over the next month shift towards FY16 budget negotiations.
Your Voices Still Need to be Heard
It is important that we continue educating our elected officials about the importance of community schools and afterschool programs. As the focus shifts towards the FY16 budget, urge them to avoid budget cuts and instead seek responsible revenue generating solutions that ensure adequate investments in our children, families, and communities.
On April 24 a bus load of 75 parents, teachers, funders and elected officials from Wisconsin arrived at Shields Middle School, in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood. They were there to learn about community schools and see for themselves how community school partnerships like the one between Shields and Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC) address the holistic needs of the children and families they serve. The site visit, co-hosted by the Federation and CPS' Community Schools Initiative, was designed to provide a wide range of stakeholders with an understanding of the key functions of a community school and strategies for supporting community school implementation in their own communities. Participants included representatives from from United Way of Racine County, United Way of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Teachers Union, Madison School District, and Wisconsin Jobs Now.
|Mr. Auffant, principal, demonstrates "a day in the life" of a Shields community school student|
Participants also heard from Mandee Polonsky, Senior Director, Community Impact at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago about their commitment to community schools and the impact they are seeing, including ways that the United Way is measuring impact and why they've taken the approach to invest in networking and aligning supports within communities. Missy Carpenter, Director of Community Schools for Y.O.U. in Evanston, IL also talked about what this work can look like in a suburban community and shared insight about strategically scaling-up an initiative. She also reinforced that community school work is not a program or even a series of programs - it is a strategy, and a way to change the way systems and people work together to support students.
Prior to setting off for Chicago, two participants, Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee), unveiled legislation that would facilitate the creation of "Community Schools" in their local public school districts. Click here to learn more or read a copy of the bill.
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!
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.