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“City Connects results offer powerful support for what should be common sense: when we address the challenges poor students face both within and beyond schools, they flourish.” –Learning First Alliance “Public School Insights” blog


Leah Lindsay
Director of External Relations

December 10, 2013

City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh Named to Boston Mayor-elect's Transition Committee on Education

Mary E. Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects, has been named to the Education Transition Committee for Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh, who will take office in January 2014.


November 4, 2013

City Connects Partners with the Children’s Aid Society to Deliver Student Support in
New York City

City Connects has partnered with The Children’s Aid Society of New York City to pilot the delivery of optimized student supports to the C. S. 61 Francisco Oller elementary school, a community school in the Morrisania neighborhood of the South Bronx, beginning in January 2014.


October 22, 2013

Closing the opportunity gap with data, systems, and support

“Teachers cannot do the work of counselors and social workers,” educators told Mary Walsh when she inquired many years ago about how schools were addressing the out-of-school challenges of students living in poverty. Along with these educators, Walsh recognized that factors such as homelessness, inadequate health care, and community violence may seriously affect academic achievement. Over the past 15 years, Boston College Professor Mary Walsh has led the development of an organized approach to addressing these and other barriers that interfere with students’ ability to learn and succeed in school.


October 16, 2013

Two new grants allow expansion of City Connects' early childhood and evaluation efforts

City Connects has received two new grants this fall. A 3-year, $530,000 grant from the Better Way Foundation will extend City Connects’ recently adapted early childhood system of student support to all City Connects schools and evaluate its immediate and long-term impact on learning and development in the early childhood population. Additionally, a 2-year, $150,000 grant from the GHR Foundation will support a cost-benefit/social return on investment analysis of City Connects’ system of student support.


September 17, 2013

City Connects Expands in Boston with Grant from the Charles Hayden Foundation

City Connects has expanded into two additional Boston Public Schools for the 2013-14 academic year, made possibly by a grant from the Charles Hayden Foundation. This support enables City Connects to implement its model of optimized student support in the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood and the Sarah Greenwood K-8 School in Dorchester.

July 7, 2013

Sinclair gets $100K to develop program to help students graduate

Dayton Daily News

Sinclair Community College has invested in a pilot a program that will connect students with the resources they need to overcome barriers in their lives and graduate. The college will also receive support from the Mathile Family Foundation in Dayton to adapt the City Connects program from a model that aids students in kindergarten through high school to one that helps adults pursuing higher education.


July 1, 2013

City Connects partners with Sinclair Community College

City Connects is partnering with Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH, to adapt the model of optimized student support to the community college setting.

June 10, 2013

Support All Students to Close the Achievement Gap

ASCD's "The Whole Child" blog

City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh authors a guest blog post about how schools can counter the effects of poverty on students. She advocates for a comprehensive, systematic approach to student support for each and every child in a school.


Nov. 15, 2012

City Connects Named to S&I 100 Index

City Connects has been named one of America’s top-performing nonprofit organizations on a newly launched giving platform, the Social Impact 100 (S&I 100). The S&I 100 is the first-ever broad index of US nonprofits that have evidence of results and the potential to grow. Covering 100 high-impact nonprofits, the Index features nonprofits that address issues in education, health, youth and poverty. Each of the 100 organizations has been rigorously screened for proof of impact and is only included in the Index if it has the ability to serve more people in need.


Nov. 7, 2012

More on Turning Schools Around

Education Week's "Public Engagement & Ed Reform" blog

The results [City Connects] report are impressive. For a cost of less than $500 per child, they are helping to break through achievement gaps. I believe this program (and others like it), in conjunction with strong development of principals, should be replicated around the country to help turn around chronically low- performing schools.


July 10, 2012

City Connects Awarded $400,000 Grant from Massachusetts’ Priority Partners for Turnaround Investment Fund to Develop Student Support Sustainability Plan

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has awarded City Connects a $400,000, two-year award to develop strategies that build district capacity to sustain effective student support programs in schools. City Connects will be partnering with Boston and Springfield public schools for this work, which is supported by the DESE Priority Partners for Turnaround Investment Fund.


December 2, 2011

More Than a Gut Feeling: The Real Value of Family and Community Engagement

Harvard Family Research Project FINE Newsletter

City Connects evaluation team member Eric Dearing, PhD, associate professor of applied and developmental psychology at Boston College's Lynch School of Education, has authored an "emerging leaders profile" in the latest Harvard Family Research Project FINE Newsletter. In this article, Dr. Dearing discusses his vision for the field of family engagement, as well as the nation, and cites City Connects as one exmaple of a program successfully engaging familes and the community.


October 20, 2011

Dever School on the Move

Dorchester Reporter

The Paul A. Dever Elementary School on Columbia Point has spent the last two years on Boston Public School’s (BPS) short list of “turnaround schools” slated for academic and staffing review following sub-par MCAS scores. The designation triggered a sweeping restructuring of the school’s curriculum, teachers and administrators combined with an influx of partnerships that has allowed the 500-student body to make considerable academic gains. Principal Mike Sabin said that City Connects is a "natural fit" for the Dever.


September 4, 2011

City Connects Links North End Students to Community Services

North End/Waterfront News

In the 2010-11 academic year, the student support program City Connects linked 300 North End students at the Eliot K-8 school to 550 services and enrichment opportunities in their school communities and neighborhoods. As Boston Public Schools approach the first day of school, City Connects is poised to continue this important work on behalf of students during the 2011-12 academic year.


August 29, 2011

City Connects Expands: Six Springfield, Mass., Turnaround Elementary Schools to Implement Optimized Student Support Model

City Connects is expanding to six schools in Springfield, Mass., for the 2011-12 academic year. This marks City Connects’ first expansion outside of Boston since its inception a decade ago. Through its Race to the Top allocation, Springfield Public Schools chose City Connects as a partner to provide student support in its transformation elementary and K‐8 schools.


August 2, 2011

City Connects Named Priority Partner for Turnaround Schools through Massachusetts’ Race to the Top Grant

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has named City Connects a “Priority Partner” for turnaround schools in the area of social, emotional, and health needs. A project of the Commonwealth’s Race to the Top grant, the Priority Partners for Turnaournd initiative is aimed at qualifying proven organizations to support district and school turnaround efforts.


July 28, 2011

City Connects Researcher Awarded Grant to Study Impact of Student Support on Immigrant Children

Eric Dearing, PhD, associate professor of applied developmental psychology at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, has been awarded a 3-year, $150,000 Young Scholar award from the Foundation for Child Development for his project, “Student Support in High-Poverty Elementary Schools and the Achievement of English Language Learners.” Dr. Dearing’s work will focus on immigrant children who are English Language Learners receiving student support through City Connects.


July 7, 2011

Cradles to Crayons Donates Leap Pads to City Connects Schools

On June 17, as part of a year-end day of service, City Connects School Site Coordinators and Program Managers spent the day at Cradles to Crayons’ “Giving Factory,” a warehouse in Brighton, where they inspected, sorted, and packaged clothing donations for children. Cradles to Crayons, a longtime partner of City Connects, also donated Leap Pads to City Connects schools.


May 31, 2011

Video Posted: Creating Dynamic School Partnerships to Improve Health & Wellness of Students

Video from our May 11, 2011, meeting of community partners has been posted on the City Connects YouTube channel. Speakers Dr. Mary Walsh, Dr. Linda Grant, Jill Carter, Simon Ho, and Patrice DiNatale are featured discussing the crucial role health and wellness play in student support.


May 27, 2011

Bolder, Broader Action: Strategies for Closing the Poverty Gap

Education Week Futures of School Reform blog

The challenge now is to translate our analysis into action by implementing a series of strategies, coupled with measurable outcomes, to ensure success.  One of our most successful programs, called City Connects, began by providing staff to oversee the inclusion of wraparound services from several local health and human service agencies into a small number of targeted Boston public schools. Now, the program is expanding statewide.


May 23, 2011

City Connects Coming to Springfield

Springfield Educator

The program has already been proven to work in Boston schools. Since its implementation, MCAS scores improved, behavioral problems decreased and the achievement gap between those who speak English as a native language and those who do not was greatly reduced. Now, Springfield is becoming the second city in the state to implement the City Connects program.


April 26, 2011

City Connects to Students

District Administration

Boston Public Schools is seeing the results of City Connects—an intervention, prevention and enrichment program that, for a decade, has worked with teachers to pair students with community-based services to help students better engage and thrive in school.


March 7, 2011

2010 Annual Report Published

Again this year, our report presents strong evidence of the positive effects of City Connects for students and their families, for teachers and principals who work in our schools, and for our community partners.


February 28, 2011

City Connects Joins OpportunityNation Coalition

We’ve signed on to join the OpportunityNation coalition, a national coalition of business leaders, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and grassroots organizations working to advance a nonpartisan/bipartisan agenda to enhance opportunity and economic mobility in America.


January 18, 2011

Event Aims to Leverage 'i3' Competition Momentum

Education Week

City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh is quoted in this article about the Education Innovation Forum in Washington, DC, on Jan. 20-21, 2011. With a highly-scored but not funded i3 grant application, City Connects was invited to attend the Forum to showcase our work.


December 11, 2010

Remove Barriers to Learning

Boston Globe Editorial

Students can achieve more when they come to school prepared to learn. City Connects offers a glimpse into how that system might clear away some of the many barriers that stand between children and their education.


December 2, 2010

BC Program Draws Notice Among Education Reformers

The Boston College Chronicle

A new approach to supporting elementary schools has grown from a test case developed at Boston College to a proven model that is quickly capturing the imagination of education reformers both inside and outside of troubled urban schools.


November 29, 2010

Hub Student Social Services Group Girds for a New Task: Growing

Boston Globe

City Connects, a program tending to the needs that can impede students' ability to do well academically and socially, expands as Governor Deval Patrick is pushing for an overhaul of dozens of low-achieving schools and more innovative approaches to address the academic, emotional, and social well-being of students.


November 12, 2010

Speaker Slides from the Optimized Student Support Conference Now Available

Download copies of the slides that were presented at the City Connects conference, Optimized Student Support: Best Practices for Schools and Community Agencies.


October 4, 2010

City Connects Third-Graders Embrace Healthy Lifestyle with "ChopChop" Magazine

With the support of the New Balance Foundation, City Connects site coordinators distributed the health-focused kids' magazine "ChopChop" to all City Connects third-graders--nearly 1,000 students.


October 1, 2010

City Connects Highly Rated Among Federal 'i3' Proposals

City Connects was among the highly-rated proposals received by the U.S. Department of Education for the "Investing in Innovation" (i3) program.


September 28, 2010

Q&A: Dr. Mary Walsh, Executive Director, City Connects


Dr. Walsh discusses the tenets of optimized student support, how City Connects developed its unique school-community-university partnership, and how data informs our work.


September 8, 2010

City Connects Expands: Optimized Student Support Model Now in 17 Boston Public Schools

Made possible by the state's School Improvement Grants, City Connects will be implementing its model in seven of Boston's "turnaround' elementary schools. This expansion brings City Connects to a total of 17 Boston Public Schools for the 2010-11 academic year.


July 4, 2010

Swimming In Reality

The Future of Teaching

City Connects is identified as an example of a program encouraging policy makers to acknowledge the context of schools in education reform efforts.


July 1, 2010

Helping the Whole Child: A View from Two Schools

Public School Insights

A principal and site coordinator, each from a City Connects school, provide an insider's view of CCNX at work.


June 18, 2010

When City Connects Helps the Whole Child, Achievement Gaps Shrink

Public School Insights

An innovative program out of Boston College is making a big difference for children in Boston elementary schools. City Connects' results offer powerful support for what should be common sense: When we address the challenges poor students face both within and beyond schools, they flourish.


June 13, 2010

Students take a stand against drugs and alcohol

Allston-Brighton TAB

Students from City Connects schools participated in the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force annual Youth Summit at Boston College, where they pledged to make positive choices when faced with drugs or alcohol.


May 4, 2010

Local hospital inspires teens to get moving

WCVB TV-Boston

The Eliot School in Boston's North End kicked off its walking club with a 2-mile trek down Boston's Esplanade. Held in conjunction with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the students learned about the positive health effects to be gained from walking. Also covered by:


Winter 2009

Life Support

Boston College Magazine

The business of public schools is to educate children. The business of the Lynch School’s Boston Connects program is to enable that education.