Philadelphia – Mayor Jim Kenney today announced a significant expansion in the Community Schools Program, the pioneering partnership between the City of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, and school communities to remove barriers to learning and support the success of each student. The Mayor designated three new Community Schools, bringing the total number of public schools in the program to 20. The new Community Schools are:
- Add B. Anderson Elementary School in West Philadelphia,
- Frankford High School on Oxford Avenue in Frankford, and
- Paul L. Dunbar School in North Philadelphia.
“We launched the first cohort of nine Community Schools in 2017. The goal then, and now, is to meet the needs of the whole child and provide support to both students and families as well as resources to the community. I’m excited to continue building the network of Philadelphia Community Schools with the addition of Add B. Anderson, Frankford High School, and Paul L. Dunbar School,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.
In each Community School, an Office of Children and Families Community School Coordinator supports strategic partnerships and programs that promote wellness, stability, and learning opportunities for students, families, and neighbors.
“We know that for schools to help students thrive, we need to work with our partners to address the struggles and challenges our students face inside and outside of the classroom,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. “And that’s exactly why it’s important to have the Community Schools initiative, a collaborative partnership providing wrap-around services and amplifying the work of our Student Support Services to extend our reach far beyond academics. Through working with Community School coordinators, our school leaders receive additional support to help achieve their desired educational outcomes.”
“Community schools make perfect sense,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke, a longtime champion of the concept. “People who live in neighborhoods want to feel connected to their local school, and they have needs to be connected to city services and a nearby location to find and access them. I’m delighted to see another community school opening in the 5th Councilmanic district, as well as in the other two communities.”
The long-term goal of Community Schools is to ensure that every student gets the most out of their education and ultimately graduates high school being college- and career- ready, and that communities are healthy, safe, hopeful, and supportive. “A critical part of Community schools is the foundation of core services. This year we’ve expanded those services to include social services case management, attendance case management, and Out-of-School Time programming, making Community Schools a true hub of support services,” said Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families.
To be designated a Community School, principals must apply. This year’s application prioritized schools in the 19143, 19122, and 19124 zip codes. These zip codes were priority due to high youth-involved gun violence, high out-of-home child welfare placement, low school attendance, no existing community schools, and low Out-of-School Time investment.
Principal Laurena Zeller of Add B. Anderson School hopes the Community School designation will bring access to culturally responsive activities, including financial literacy and career readiness, as well as encourage more family and community engagement with the school.
“We believe in the development of the whole child and their beauty at Anderson,” said Zeller. “We applied to be a Community School because we envision our school being an oasis and ‘one stop hub’ where our students, families and community members could have access to a multitude of resources that would be beneficial to them.”
At the Paul L. Dunbar School, Principal Daniel Mina is looking forward to Community School support to help families overcome barriers to school attendance and Out-of-School Time programming.
“Our school’s acceptance as a Community School represents an acknowledgement of the hard work we have engaged in to create a collaborative, community environment at Paul L. Dunbar School and provides the resources, support, training, and network to expand and enhance that work,” Mina said. “Dunbar’s motto is ‘One Band, One Sound,’ and by becoming a Community School, our band is getting bigger, and our sound will become much stronger.”
Frankford High School will become the fifth high school designated a Community School. Principal Michael Calderone is excited for the career and college readiness programs to be added, as well as for help with chronic truancy.
“Frankford High School has a long and storied history that dates back to 1910 but today may be one of the most important dates in Frankford High School’s 112-year history,” said Calderone. “Today’s announcement will forever change the trajectory of this amazing community and bring more equitable access to resources to a community that has gone without what they deserve from their neighborhood school for too long.”
The program currently includes 17 City-designated Community Schools serving nearly 10,000 students. The announcement today of three new Community Schools brings the total to 20 schools. Community Schools are supported by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. Today’s announcement comes shortly after the 6th anniversary of City Council’s approval of the tax.