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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

January 23, 2015

Report: Schools, Partners Must Do More To Address External Barriers To Academic Success

WBUR's Learning Lab blog

Out-of-school factors account for two-thirds of the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers, with childhood poverty as the single largest factor to consider, a new report on Massachusetts education details. The annual Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report from the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy says that it is time for state and local communities to devote more attention to developing effective student support models that address student needs outside of the school building. “Schools have always tried to address these needs, they just can’t do it all,” said Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects. 

January 22, 2015

City Connects Highlighted as Promising Model for Reform in New Report

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy has highlighted City Connects as a promising example of how to serve students effectively in the second annual Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report. Including City Connects in this report reflects the program’s record of success and its potential to serve as a model for other communities across Massachusetts. 


January 18, 2015

Catholic Central a flagship of national student support program

Springfield (OH) News-Sun

A national program at Catholic Central schools aimed at better communication and coordinated care for its students is seeing growth in its second year. City Connects is an evidence-based student support program utilized in more than 60 schools in three states. It focuses on the individual needs of every student, using the schools and community agencies to maximize potential. Catholic Central is one of two flagship schools in the country serving students preschool through 12th grade. Last year, City Connects helped Central students and families with nearly 3,000 services and thousands of hours of extra support and enrichment.


December 1, 2014

City Connects Research Cited in NYC Department of Education Announcement about Community Schools

The New York City Department of Education and the De Blasio administration today announced the first 45 community schools in New York City to be paired with community partners for a 2015 launch. Under the $52 million, 4-year grant administered in partnership with the United Way of New York, New York City will launch more community schools than any other city in the nation. City Connects' research is cited in the announcement as one example of studies demonstrating the positive impact of community schools on academic achievement


November 24, 2014

Helping students with needs that extend outside the classroom

Boston Globe

The program — started more than a decade ago by educators at Boston College — is based on the simple idea that a child distracted by pain, fear, or deprivation can’t possibly do as well in school as a child without those challenges. So City Connects tries to resolve as many of those issues as possible — whether that’s buying Christmas presents, fighting obesity, getting students into drawing lessons, or helping kids negotiate playground bullies.


October 1, 2014

Study: Lynch School Program Boosts Low-Income Schools

Boston College Chronicle

A 10-year study by Lynch School of Education researchers has found that by addressing the out-of-school factors that stifle learning, high-poverty schools produce dramatic improvement in their students’ grades, standardized test scores and long-term academic success. Researchers from City Connects found the negative educational effects of poverty on learning could be cut nearly in half by City Connects’ novel approach to student support services. The researchers reported their findings recently in the prestigious American Educational Research Journal.

September 30, 2014

Learning Payoff Found for 'City Connects' Program

Education Week

Even in resource-rich cities like Boston or New York, students in poverty often miss out on the support and enrichment provided by local museums, businesses, and civic organizations. To fill those gaps, schools are working to better coordinate with local partners to provide the kinds of cultural and extracurricular experiences, as well as social services and supports, that boost all students' long-term academic progress. The approach is at the heart of a Boston College program called City Connects, which helps schools organize and align services for students, including the "great middle"—students who are neither excelling enough to be tapped for gifted programs nor struggling enough to be identified for special education.

August 12, 2014

School Year in Review: City Connects by the Numbers, 2013-14

In 2013-14, City Connects is proud to have partnered with 56 schools in 6 districts across 3 states, where 17,500 students were linked to 105,000 services and enrichment opportunities.


July 3, 2014

Deserving of Celebration: Public Education Done Right

Huffington Post Education

"As we celebrate America's independence, and the bicentennial of Francis Scott Key's penning of the Star Spangled Banner, let's also celebrate examples of comprehensive approaches to education that are doing it right and seeing great results. In Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American revolution, City Connects celebrates its fifteenth year of providing comprehensive supports to students by leveraging community assets and connecting them to each students' unique needs."


June 24, 2014

Impacting Academic Achievement through Student Support

ASCD "The Whole Child" blog

City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh authors a blog post about the findings in the newly-published Impact of City Connects: Progress Report 2014. "Our longitudinal research demonstrates that for children who attended City Connects schools in grades K–5, the beneficial effects continue into middle and high school. We can definitively say that the City Connects system of student support makes a positive and long-term difference in the lives of children."


June 19, 2014

New Report Details Positive Outcomes for City Connects Students, Schools

A new report about the City Connects intervention demonstrates that addressing the out-of-school needs of students living in poverty has a significant and lasting impact on academic achievement. The report, The Impact of City Connects: Progress Report 2014, summarizes outcomes of the City Connects evaluation for academic year 2011-12 in 16 Boston and 5 Springfield, MA, public elementary/K-8 schools.


May 28, 2014

Big Sisters Recognizes Quincy School as Community Partner of the Year

The Big Sister Association of Greater Boston named the Josiah Quincy Elementary School as its 2014 Community Partner of the Year. The award recognizes the Quincy’s sustained commitment to Big Sister’s mission to serve girls and families through mentoring programs. The award was accepted by Catherine Riede and Nicole Young, the City Connects School Site Coordinators at the Quincy.


April 29, 2014

City Connects at the GradNation Summit

City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh was a panelist at the GradNation Summit in Washington, DC, today. To an audience of policymakers, practitioners, and educators, Walsh and co-panelists the recent Child Trends report, “Making the Grade: Assessing the Evidence for Integrated Student Supports.”


March 11, 2014

"Making the Grade" Child Trends Webinar on Student Support Now Posted

City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh participated in a webinar hosted by Child Trends related to its recent report, “Making the Grade: Assessing the Evidence for Integrated Student Supports.” Child Trends Senior Scholar Kristin Anderson Moore presented the report’s findings, which look at the existing evidence from programs providing supports to students, including City Connects. Joining Mary Walsh as respondents were Daniel Cardinali, President, Communities In Schools and Jane Quinn, Vice President for Community Schools at The Children’s Aid Society and Director of the National Center for Community Schools.


February 25, 2014

Child Trends Report on "Integrated Student Supports" Features City Connects

Closing educational achievement gaps is central to improving social mobility and increasing opportunity. Integrated student supports (ISS) is one promising approach for promoting academic success that is taking hold in communities across the country. But what are integrated student supports, and are they effective at improving educational outcomes? Child Trends did a comprehensive examination of the research and evidence base for ISS, including City Connects, and ISS's potential to help a range of disadvantaged, marginalized, or struggling students. City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh will participate in a March 6 webinar about the report.

February 24, 2014

The Experts Have Spoken: Integrated Student Supports Improve Educational Outcomes

Huffington Post Education

The release of a major new study from Child Trends is one of those rare occasions when the word "seminal" would seem to be completely appropriate. Titled "Integrated Student Supports: The Evidence," this report is the first rigorous, independent analysis of all the existing research in the field of integrated student supports (ISS). After evaluating 11 separate studies, nine very different providers, and three disparate models of ISS delivery, one of which is City Connects, researchers found measurable decreases in grade retention, dropout rates, and absenteeism, along with measurable increases in attendance rates and math scores.


February 3, 2014

Six Foundations Give Big to Reduce High School Dropout Rates

Inside Philanthropy

For the 2012-2013 school year, the high school dropout rate in Boston Public Schools was 4.5%. This is a 1.9% decrease from the previous year, totalling 391 fewer student dropouts. Actually, this is the lowest rate BPS has ever seen. To get that percentage even lower, the Boston-based Barr Foundation is giving big to City Connects' efforts in Boston Public Schools.


January 27, 2014

The Barr Foundation Awards City Connects $1.4M to Support Students in Boston Public Schools

The Barr Foundation has awarded City Connects $1.4 million over 3 years to continue implementing optimized student support in Boston Public Schools. The Barr Foundation has been a lead funder of City Connects since its inception and their ongoing support enables City Connects to continue offering student support to 18 Boston Public schools.


January 9, 2014

Article on School–University Partnerships Published by City Connects Executive Director

City Connects Executive Director Mary E. Walsh recently authored a paper, "School–University Partnerships: Reflections and Opportunities." Co-authored by Ph.D. candidate Sarah Backe, the article was published in an issue of the Peabody Journal of Education focused on the promise of universities in school reform