Community Schools Initiative Overview

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What is a community school?

A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resouces. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities. Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families, and communities. 

What is a Lead Partner?

A school's lead partner is a community-based organization whose vision and mission matches that of the community school model and can point to specific services and strategies in their resource pool that will enhance opportunities for students and their families to learn and be successful.

Lead partners must make themselves a part of the culture of the school as it transforms into a community school. This is done through participation in monthly core team meetings, regular community leadership team meetings, whole school events and activities, provision of programs and services to serve the student/family population, and other strategies as developed with building leadership. They also commit to realigning any existing programming to their community school sites, demonstrating shared commitment to intentionally focusing resources to create maximum impact for students and families.

Lead partners champion the work happening at their community schools and within the larger initiative. They speak to the needs that exist for kids and families and share how their organization is strategically addressing those needs through collaborative partnership. Community schools are about changing systems and creating more and seamless opportunities for children and families. They are about delievering services differently to the various populations engaging in the public education system and the community.

The Community Service Office is proud to serve as the Lead Partner of Lehigh's community schools initiative, which is part of the larger Lehigh Valley Community School Network coordinated by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Lehigh's initiative consists of all three public schools in South Bethlehem: Donegan Elementary, Fountain Hill Elementary, and Broughal Middle Schools.

In this role, the CSO is proud to work daily with both our external community partners and our vital internal Lehigh partners to continue to maintain existing partnerships and continue to think creatively about new and innovative ways for partners to support this critical work in our school sites for the benefit of our larger community.

Additionally, the CSO serves as the employing entity fo the Community School Coordinator (CSC) at each of our school sites. Each CSC is empowered to work alongside the building principal to collect and analyze data around needed resources for students and families and to work creatively to address those resource gaps in order to promote student and family success.