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Employing a Community Schools Approach to Meet Student Needs

**Kimner, H. (2021). Healing-centered community schools: A key investment for COVID-19 recovery. Policy Analysis for California Education. 08/pb_kimner_aug21.pdf

The 2021-22 California state budget included unprecedented levels of money for implementing community schools, but most of these funds are one-time, not ongoing. This brief focuses on what makes a community school healing-centered, what funding is available to districts should they pursue this approach, and guidance to districts about how to make these practices sustainable. The author’s emphasis is on creating partnerships among the many organizations required to support integrated services to students. She also specifies actions that education leaders, policymakers, capacity-building partners, state government, and philanthropists can take to support community schools.

To read a companion brief on the practices of a healing-centered community school, please visit

Sawchuk, S. (2021, September 14). What is the purpose of school? EdWeek.

This essay uses the pandemic as an opportunity to ask what the purpose of school is and what it ought to be. Schools were often the frontlines of many social services provided to families during school shutdowns because they were the most common (and sometimes the only) touchpoint for families. The author wonders whether expecting schools to provide such services in the future is fair, makes good policy or is wise. His conclusions consider the best use of the federal recovery funding, which could be a turning point for community services, eliminating silos, and transforming education.

Fehrer, K., & Ruiz de Velasco, J. (2020). Organizational coherence. John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. 20New%20Highland%20RISE.pdf

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) began their work with community schools in 2010. This brief describes the experiences of two of their schools, New Highland RISE Elementary and Elmhurst United Middle School, in building coherent organizational systems. Their stories illustrate how community schools bring together a variety of stakeholders –teachers, staff, community partners, and families – while emphasizing that these groups need to have a clear understanding of why they are working together in order to reap the full benefits of a community schools approach.

This brief is part of a series on OUSD community schools. To read more, please visit

Maier, A., & Niebuhr, D. (2021). California Community Schools Partnership Program: A transformational opportunity for whole child education. Learning Policy Institute & Opportunity Institute.

California is offering grant funds to school districts implementing a community schools approach as part of their pandemic recovery. The authors outline how the implementation principles in the new law align with the research base for high-quality community schools. Knowing that adequate professional supports and capacity building are an important component in a successful community schools, the authors include a section on the lessons learned from other, similar models.

**This document is considered a priority reading.