Getting Started

getting started

Community Schools in Practice: An Overview

Strategic Plan
Each Community School is partnered with 
a lead CBO partner that provides additional supports and services for students, both integrated into the instructional school day, as well as before and after school.  These CBOs place a full-time Community School Director (CSD) on site, complemented by a full-time AmeriCorps member. 

Learn more about becoming a Community School partner.


Mayor de Blasio Taps New Advisory Board to Help Develop NYC's Next Wave of Schools

Theory of Change 

What makes an NYC Community School special? Community Schools share a common vision that all children receive the individualized attention they need to succeed. The 
Theory of Change embraced by Community Schools shows that by investing in partnerships and infrastructure to provide support, Community Schools have the capacity to work efficiently and effectively to help students and their families get the help they need to thrive. 

As is outlined in our theory of change, by investing in collaborative partnerships, infrastructure, strategic use of data, healthy learning communities, and families organized around student success will result in four key capacities for whole child support. The Core Capacities Table provides an overview of each of the core capacities of a Community School. 

Stages of Development
As a school develops it capacity to collaborate, coordinate, connect and continuously improve, it moves through the process of becoming a fully operational Community School. In this process schools undergo four distinct stages of development: Exploring, Emerging, Maturing, and Excelling. The NYC Office of Community Schools has created a Stages of Development Rubric to support this type of self-assessment

Initial Steps
Once a school has been selected to transform into a Community School in NYC, there are certain initial steps that occur. Click the image to make it larger.



Schools Pair with a Lead CBO
  • Schools implement a collaborative school governance structure that includes a lead CBO partner and members of the School Leadership Team.
  • Together they hire a Community School Director (CSD) who serves as a member of the School Leadership Team (SLT)
  • School leadership has a clear instructional vision and high expectations for all students
Form a Community School Team (CST)
  • Community School Team includes the Principal, CSD, Parents, Partners and others who together design and develop the community school according to its strengths and needs
  • Parents and caregivers are real and active partners in their children's education
  • Establish protocols and consistent meetings and regularly uses data to monitor impact
  • Community members are engaged in activities that help build a stronger school community.
Align Services 
  • CSD works with Principal and CST to ensure programs and services are aligned with school goals for student achievement
  • Expanded learning time includes academic interventions and enrichment activities and 
    is aligned with school-day curriculum and expectations.
  • Youth development is integrated across academics, programs and services.
  • Mental health, medical, and social services are available to students who need them.
  • Family members have access to education opportunities and programs that strengthen families.
Every Community School is different and reflects the strengths and needs of its students, families, and local community. However, the best and most successful Community Schools all share common features which support student learning.

Common Values for Community Schools in New York City

While all 227 Community Schools are different and reflect the strengths and needs of their local communities, they are anchored in a set of common values that serve as a foundation:
      • Rigorous instruction designed to provide personalized learning opportunities for students.
      • Robust parent engagement, anchored in positive youth development, ensuring that schools are welcoming and empowering to students, families and community members.
      • Continuous improvement using school and student data to tailor programming and instruction focused on results.