Two Major Wins for L.A. Unified’s Community Schools Initiative

The community school model leverages community assets to address the comprehensive needs of students and families and levels the playing field for success. Already into our second year of implementation, the L.A. Unified Community Schools Initiative recently celebrated two significant wins. L.A. Unified was awarded two California Community Schools Partnership Grants, totaling $6 million, and the district's Community Schools Steering Committee selected the second cohort of schools that will begin their Community School transformation process in the fall of 2021.

At the end of last year, the California Department of Education accepted applications from school districts, county offices of education and charter schools across the state for the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP). The CSPP provides one-time funding through Sept. 30, 2022, to expand and sustain existing single, or a network of, community schools. Priority was given to high-poverty schools in which at least 80 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

The CCSPP grant recipients were announced on April 6, 2021, and both L.A. Unified applications were awarded. Building out partnerships between L.A. Unified's Community Schools and the City of Los Angeles' various youth and family-serving programs was a key focus of both applications. The L.A. County Office of Education, a member of the L.A. Unified Community Schools Steering Committee, was also awarded a grant, as well as Pasadena Unified School District. In total, L.A. County did well with a $12 million share of the $44.5 million total funding pool. 

This year, Gov. Newsom proposed $3 billion for the California Community Schools Partnership Program. UNITE-LA supports this investment in our children and communities, especially as the community school framework can help schools respond to and mitigate the academic and social impacts of COVID-19. 

Also in April, the Community Schools Steering Committee, which is convened by L.A. Unified, UTLA and UNITE-LA, selected the second cohort of 13 schools who will begin their Community School transformation process in the fall of 2021. Committee members and a group of volunteers, consisting of community school coordinators, staff from board offices and leaders from local nonprofits, read and rated close to 30 school applications. The 13 schools were chosen based on their strong desire and commitment to implement the tenets of the Community Schools Framework at their school sites. Up next for the second cohort of schools is the hiring of their community school coordinator and professional development training for the community schools team over the summer and fall. 

We are excited to see the Community Schools Initiative grow and expand. We also recognize sufficient and sustained funding is needed to support meaningful change and to scale the community schools model. Over the summer, the Community Schools Steering Committee will focus on creating a sustainable funding base with a mix of short- and long-term funding from multiple, public and private sources. 

For more information on the L.A. Compact's Community Schools partnership with L.A. Unified, please contact Carrie Lemmon, Sr. Director of Systems Change Strategy, at [email protected].

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