Community Schools
in Action

 
Every community school looks slightly different, because it is developed through mutually beneficial partnerships with students, families, community agencies, businesses, and residents that are unique to that community.

Check out these
community school profiles to learn more about the powerful community school work of one district and two schools in Illinois.
 

You can also view these videos to really see community schools in action!

Community Schools Map

There are nearly 200 community schools in urban, surburban, and rural communities all over Illinois. Click on the interactive map to learn more about community schools in your area.  
 

Federation Newsletter
 
Federation members get access to our weekly eDigest which contains information about upcoming events, best practices, funding opportunities and much more.
 

View previous editions by clicking here.




PUBLIC POLICY

About our Policy Positions
The Federation for Community Schools prioritizes advocacy that sustains and expands community schools. We endorse legislation that promotes innovative collaborations and strengthens partnerships between community-based organizations, school administration, educators, parents and students. We endorse efforts that seek to empower parents and guardians as advocates for their children and as partners in decisions about their children’s education. Lastly, we believe that responsibility for student success extends beyond education agencies and school districts, and we will work to break down silos that exist at all levels of government.



Community Schools Advocacy Day - April 30, 2014
The state budget situation is a mess. Critical funding that community schools rely on is in jeopardy. Many of our communities are being put under increasing stress, and support for programs and resources people need is eroding.

That's why we're taking our case to Springfield on April 30th!  We will be partnering with the United Way to spend a day in Springfield educating elected officials and policymakers about community schools and the funding they rely on to achieve their goals.

Legislators and policy makers need to hear from us - from people directly affected by their decisions, by funding cuts, and by the state's decreased investments in our work - so that they understand how their choices and how the state budget will impact their constituents.   This is a critical time to make our case known. State Legislators are in the process of making difficult decisions about what programs to fund - and where to make cuts. They need information to help guide their decisions, and we have an opportunity to provide our feedback and perspective directly to the people making the decisions.

Learn more about our Community Schools Advocacy Day and how you can get involved



** 21st CCLC Funding is in Jeopardy **

How does 21st CCLC funding support community schools?
21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants are a main source of support for community school efforts in Illinois.  21st CCLC funding provides expanded learning opportunities, enrichment, supports, and safety for more than 54,000 children and young people across Illinois – but this funding is in jeopardy. We face two main threats to continued availability of 21st CCLC funds for our work.

Why is 21st CCLC funding in jeopardy?
First, like many other states, Illinois has asked the Federal government for a waiver to change how the state measures student achievement and academic progress, as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).   

The state also would like the flexibility to use 21st CCLC funding for purposes other than afterschool programs and community schools, for example, activities during the school day and extending the formal school day with “more of the same” and without community partners.

Second, in June 2014, the grants for nearly two-thirds of the 21st CCLC programs will end, and because the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) limits partnerships to applying for only two rounds of grants, many of these community school partnerships and programs will not be eligible to apply for a new 21st CCLC grant.  In addition, ISBE currently decreases funding in the last two years of a 21st CCLC grant, and the timing of the RFP is inconsistent – without putting out the RFP in enough time for funding to begin on July 1st, many partnerships are put in a position of suspending programs and laying off high-quality afterschool staff and providers or finding other ways to support programs.  Strengthening the structure of the 21st CCLC program can help offset the second main threat to community school partnerships and afterschool practitioners being able to use 21st CCLC funds to support their work.


21st CCLC funding provides critical supports to students and families
It is crucial that ISBE hear from as many stakeholders as possible about the negative impacts of the current program structure.  In addition we must work together to let ISBE know that because 21st CCLC funding provides important supports to students and families and is the cornerstone of community school work throughout Illinois,  it should therefore remain intact even if the state is granted flexibility to use the money in other ways.

What are we asking ISBE to do?
  1. We are asking ISBE to maintain these crucial out-of-school time programs by limiting the amount of 21st CCLC funding that can be directed to extending the formal school day and to activities that take place during the school day.
  2. We are asking ISBE to commit to releasing RFPs in a timely fashion, so new grants can start on July 1st.
  3. We are asking ISBE to allow existing partnerships to apply for grants beyond two rounds of funding, and to leave funding at the same level throughout the grant.

What can YOU do?
Here are three ways you can make sure ISBE knows how important 21st CCLC funding is to your community school efforts and to programs and resources for the children and families you support, and what the state needs to do to preserve your important work.
  1. Urge our policymakers to preserve 21st CCLC Funding
    Download the postcard below and write a personal message to ISBE Superintendent Koch, ISBE Chairman Chico, and Governor Quinn about how important 21st CCLC funding is to you.
  2. Engage your stakeholders
    Make copies of the postcard above and have your students, parents, Advisory Board, staff, and other stakeholders write their own personal messages.  Collect all of the postcards in one envelope and mail to ISBE. 

     
  3. Call your legislator
    Let him/her know that you need his/her support of our efforts to preserve and strengthen the 21st CCLC program – and the important work it funds in his/ her district