Community Schools present an opportunity to rethink partnerships and the role that schools have in meeting the needs of students and families. They are defined by the Partnership for the Future of Learning as a public school with “strong and intentional community partnerships ensuring pupil learning and whole child and family development.” This model can be a powerful strategy to improve English learner education, empower multilingual families, bring resources to support immigrant and refugee students, and strengthen connections between elementary and early childhood education. It is for these reasons that Californians Together was excited when California’s 2021-22 Budget included a $3 billion investment in community schools.
On May 18, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved the first round of Planning Grants and Implementation Grants, impacting 163 school districts and county offices of education and 105 charter schools.
- The Planning Grants (totaling $38.2 million) will provide up to $200,000 for up to two years to 106 schools districts and county offices of education and 86 charters schools with no existing community schools—the school districts and county offices of education grantees serve a total of 202,152 English learners across 35 counties.
- The Implementation Grants (totaling $611 million) will provide $150,000-$500,000 over five years to 57 schools districts and county offices of education and 19 charters schools for new, expanded, or continuing community schools—the school districts and county offices of education grantees serve a total of 285,834 English learners across 25 counties.
Across both sets of school district grantees, over one in five of all students is an English learner. Moreover, 14 of the 20 districts with the largest number of English learners are grantees.
The SBE also approved a $12 million three-year contract for the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) to serve as a lead technical assistance center. The ACOE will be a support hub for the program, co-led with the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, and in partnership with Californians for Justice and the National Education Association.
It is important to note that additional planning and implementation grants are expected to be allocated in the 2022–23 school year. Moreover, the high demand for these grants prompted the Governor to include an additional $1.5 billion in the 2022-23 Budget May revise.
Current and future grantees will have an opportunity to build or expand Community Schools with an intentional focus on high quality programs and instruction for English learners and the English Learner Roadmap (EL Roadmap) as a central component. To support this alignment, Californians Together recently released Alignment of Community Schools with the English Learner Roadmap Policy, adapted from Section 4: Engaging the Whole Village (pages 44-57) of the California English Learner Roadmap Implementation Guide and Toolkit for Administrators Volume 5: Aligning and Articulating Practices Across the System. In the coming months, Californians Together will also be releasing a series of four briefs focused on how Community Schools can improve English Learner education, empower multilingual families, support immigrant and refugee students, and strengthen connections between elementary and early childhood education to support dual language learners.