Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are home to more than 322,000 students who attend 635 schools. In its nearly 200-year-long history, Chicago’s schools have faced segregation, fiscal crises, and calls for “real equity.” In order to make strides in supporting student success, CPS has invested in the community schools strategy to connect the dots among community partnerships, strong school leadership, and academic achievement. Community schools aim to transform schools and accelerate student success based on the unique priorities and strengths of local communities. As community school strategies have grown in Chicago, independent evaluations have shown improvements in school-day attendance, academic achievement outcomes such as GPA and NWEA scores, school-related behaviors, and outcomes related to school climate.

Chicago’s landscape of community schools has evolved multiple times since 1998, when 50 schools adopted the strategy through a braiding of resources, investment in relationships, and shared visions. Insights from leaders reveal how these community schools evolve, survive, and thrive as implementation unfolds and as funding shifts.

By 2001, CPS deepened their commitment to the strategy by increasing the number of community schools to 150 within three years. In the subsequent decade, Chicago had expanded to 205 community schools before school closings and funding shifts resulted in a decrease to 117 schools.

Due to a variety of increases in funding streams ranging from the local Sustainable Community Schools (SCS) Initiative, federal Full-Service Community Schools grant program (FSCS), and yearly federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grants, the total number of community schools are increasing again. This major increase in federal funding for community schools has led to a resurgence occurring not just in Chicago, but nationally.

Read the full article about Chicago community schools by Jennifer Kotting at Brookings.