Social Return on Investment: A Powerful Tool for Communicating – The Monetary Value of Community Schools

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A new study on Social Return on Investment (SROI) of community schools offers compelling evidence of the strategy’s impact on children, families and communities.  With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Children’s Aid Society National Center for Community Schools (NCCS) contracted with The Finance Project (TFP) to conduct a study to determine the SROI of two of its full-service community schools, P. S. 5 and the Salomé Ureña de Henriquez Campus, operated in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.

The study shows that every dollar invested in the schools produced a $10.30 (P.S. 5) and $14.80 (Salomé Ureña) return in social value. The recently released case study and companion guide, co-published by Children’s Aid and TFP, are powerful tools for communicating the monetary value of the strategy in a way that resonates with both public- and private-sector leaders.   

The SROI framework offered in this study is by no means the first or the last word on how to reliably measure and communicate the value of community schools and other social policy initiatives. But it is an important and practical contribution to the ongoing conversation.  In this constrained fiscal environment, it is more critical than ever to ensure that reliable information is available for informed decision making and investment.

“It is a huge leap forward to have a standard for judging how community schools bring a solid return on investment and ensure student success,” said Jane Quinn, Children’s Aid Society Vice President and Director of the National Center for Community Schools. “With the release of these results and the dissemination of our guide, we hope to get one step closer to our goal of making every school a community school.”

The Children’s Aid Society and the Finance Project are very pleased to share this landmark study.

Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools:  A Case Study. This case study documents the process of applying social return on investment (SROI) analysis to measure the economic value of two community schools operated by The Children's Aid Society, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods ─ PS 5 and Salomé Ureña. The case study details each step of the data-gathering and measurement process and provides convincing evidence of the value of outcomes for students, families, and school communities.

Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools: A Practical Guide.  Social return on investment (SROI) analysis offers a practical new approach for measuring and communicating the value of outcomes achieved by programs that provide social, health, and educational services to children and their families. This guide highlights the key steps in conducting SROI research, issues in data-gathering and analysis, as well as lessons learned from a case study of two New York City community schools. The guide also helps educators and community leaders understand how to present and use SROI findings to make a strong case for investments to sustain and scale up these promising education reform initiatives.