Community schools unite the most important influences in children’s lives – schools, families, and communities – to create a support system for success that breaks down barriers to learning to ensure every child is given a chance to thrive.
Many youth in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks come from impoverished and under-resourced neighborhoods where poverty, violence, and a lack of social services often interfere with students’ academic achievement. Over 44% of students in the Redwood City School District are English language learners and over 54% qualify for Free and Reduced Price School Meals (100% at some schools)1. Almost half (49%) of all the households residing within the Redwood City School District are spending over 30% of the household income on housing costs,1 while rent prices continue to climb higher.2
In the face of challenge, students in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks are resilient, families are fiercely dedicated to their children, and all partners are committed to seeking out opportunities to help youth succeed in school. Community schools are a powerful way to mitigate challenges and enhance our community’s collective strengths.
Community schools in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks were started by Redwood City 2020 and its partners in the year 2000 and further developed, implemented, and led by the Redwood City School District over the last 14 years.
What are community schools?
Community schools are “full-service” schools that offer wrap-around services and opportunities beyond academic instruction. These wrap-around services include physical and mental healthcare, parenting education, legal support, afterschool programming, emergency food, and other safety nets. Community schools are more than just a program or a set of co-located services. At community schools, services are mobilized through intentional partnerships to provide opportunities, optimize assets, and address identified needs of students, families, and communities. Through effective shared leadership, coordination, and a collective responsibility for student, family, and community success, the opportunities and services are embedded and integrated into the fabric of daily life in school and into the landscape of the school community.
The six community schools in the Redwood City School District closely reflect the Community School model that is growing nationwide and are characterized by:
- High Quality Instruction: Community schools, first and foremost, emphasize learning. Students are held to high academic standards and benefit from cutting-edge curricula and instruction.
- Partnerships: Schools partner with families, government agencies, and non-profit and funding agencies to bring services and expertise to school sites. This allows schools to offer a range of learning opportunities designed to complement students’ work in the classroom. A comprehensive array of services such as academic support, enrichment activities, physical healthcare, violence prevention, mental healthcare, mentoring, immigration support, adult education, parenting classes, support during school transitions, crisis intervention, and safety net services such as food, housing, transportation, and clothing are offered at community schools.
- Shared Leadership: Families, students, staff, and community partners work together to plan, implement, evaluate, advocate, and make decisions.
- Coordination and Integration: Programs and services are coordinated and supported by school-based leaders called community school coordinators. This takes the burden off of principals, which allows them to focus on the academics. Services and supports are integrated with core instruction.
- Beresford Montessori
- Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
- City of Redwood City (Fair Oaks Community Center, Parks and Recreation)
- Family Connections
- First 5 San Mateo County
- Institute for Human and Social Development (Head Start)
- John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities
- Fair Oaks Health Center
- Redwood City School District
- Silicon Valley Community Foundation
- Sequoia Children’s Center
- Sequoia YMCA
- Sobrato Early Academic Literacy (SEAL)
1. Redwood City KidsData.org, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health
2. “Renters Deal With Rising Costs, Housing Crisis in San Mateo County,” NBC Bay Area (2013)
* Community Schools Report 2012-2013, The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities
Current Community School Network
- 3,437 children served
- 6 community schools:
- Hoover Community School
- Fair Oaks Community School
- Hawes Community School
- Taft Community School
- Garfield Community School
- John F. Kennedy Community School
- In 2000, Redwood City 2020 and its partners started the Community Schools Initiative in the Redwood City School District on campuses where “Healthy Start” family resource centers were located.
- Today, up to 60 nonprofits and community-based organizations partner at each community school in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks.
- Students’ participation in community school programs improves their perceptions of school.*
- English language learners whose families regularly participate in family engagement activities at community schools show positive gains in their English language proficiency.*
- Students involved in extended learning activities and whose families consistently participate in family engagement opportunities at community schools experience positive gains in their attendance.*