Community Schools


A Community School is a strategy for organizing the resources of the school and the community around student success. It is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, services, supports and opportunities leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone —all day, evenings and Saturdays, year round.

The Children’s Aid Society has partnered with the New York City Department of Education since 1992; we currently collaborate in 19 community schools, located in Washington Heights, Harlem, the South Bronx and Staten Island. These Community Schools are based on a “developmental triangle,” which calls for a strong instructional program, expanded learning opportunities through enrichment and services designed to remove barriers to students’ learning and healthy development, so that they can thrive academically and socially. The schools offer a comprehensive, integrated approach to education that extends the hours, services and partnerships of traditional public schools. Most Children’s Aid Society schools are open all day and well into the evening, six days per week, year-round. Because students in Children’s Aid community schools receive high quality services inside the schools, they arrive to classes ready to learn, and teachers are able to focus on instruction. Children’s Aid community schools produce better student and teacher attendance, increased grade retention, more appropriate referrals to special education services, improved test scores and higher parent involvement than similar schools. This work has won national and international recognition, as well as numerous awards.

The Children’s Aid Society is an active and founding member of the Coalition for Community Schools.


In 1994, The Children's Aid Society (CAS) founded the National Center for Community Schools in response to increased demand for information and advice about community schools implementation. Since then the Center has facilitated the development of over 15,000 community school adaptations nationally and internationally. The Center is a practice-based organization that draws from the CAS community schools implementation as well as from other exemplary initiatives around the USA and abroad. The Center has provided assistance to all major community school initiatives in the USA and abroad. To date, it has worked with over 60 cities in the United States, thousands of visitors from virtually every state in the US and 75 countries have come to New York to learn from our practitioners and view the schools in action. Every school in England and in Scotland incorporates elements of the community school model. Approximately 1,000 schools in the Netherlands are based on the CAS model. Colombia, South Africa, Bonaire and the Czech Republic have piloted the strategy on a smaller scale. The Center also plays a leading role in local and national advocacy to advance the community school movement and highlights this approach in the broader education agenda.

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