The 2022-2023 school year had plenty of great moments, fun times, and experiences that changed the lives of thousands of Philadelphians. This is especially true for those that are proudly a part of Philadelphia Community Schools in the Office of Children and Families. With summer in full swing, it’s important to look back at all this past year had to offer. 

Here’s just a handful of moments that have us dancing with happiness:

1. Three new Community Schools made their “debut”
Announced in the spring of ‘22, three schools adopted the Community Schools model, bringing the total of City-supported Community Schools from 17 to 20. These schools were Add B. Anderson Elementary School, Paul F. Dunbar School, and Frankford High School. The mayor even stopped by Dunbar on the first day of school to ring in the new year!

At the time, Mayor Kenney noted how important the addition of these schools was, saying, “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…”

2. The 7th Annual Community School Awards celebrated Philly’s very best…An attendee of the Community School Awards dances on the dance floor, celebrating the fun times had.
The Community School Awards, an annual celebration that honors community members who have gone above and beyond, celebrated its 7th year with a night of fun, surprises, and joy. The award recipients range in age from 13 to 75 years old and include an eighth-grader and high school senior; school parents; a community activist; a vice principal; and more. Also a major part of the evening? Dancing!

3. …And students catered the entire event!
The award ceremony, held this year at The Discovery Center in Fairmount Park, had the very special honor of hosting Murrell Dobbins CTE High School’s Culinary program students cater the event! Dobbins has been a part of the Community School model since 2017, so having their students cater the event added a new level of joy!

4. Philadelphia hosted the National Community Schools Conference!
In June 2023, Philadelphia played host to the 2023 National Community Schools And Family Engagement Conference. This conference, held every other year across the country, gathers educators, advocates, community champions and so many others together to learn new ways of supporting students and families.

5. New year, new ways to play!
At the start of the year, students at Add B. Anderson School were greeted with a truly year-changing gift. Thanks to the team at the Trust for Public Land, students are enjoying brand-new equipment on the school’s outdoor playground. Also included are newly planted trees to provide shade, as well as new drain systems to help with stormwater. Now, students will have the best resources for playing outside, while taking a break from all the learning going on inside!

6. Community Schools got the green thumb
Over at Alain Locke Community School, students worked with local community partners to create the brand-new Walnut Hill Community Farm. The farm, which sat unused during the pandemic, has helped change the way the community interacts with the school, while also teaching students basic farming skills. Students grew produce at the farm (in collaboration with Greener Partners). The produce then gets packaged into monthly community-supported agriculture (CSA) boxes for families living in transitional housing at Families Forward Shelter.

7. Thanks to partnerships, families got fed
One core part of the Community Schools model is supporting families by removing barriers to education and success. To that effect, Community Schools have partnered with partners such as Philabundance to distribute thousands of pounds of food to community members right where they are: in their own backyard. At almost all 20 Community Schools, families can stop by on designated days to pick up fresh produce, non-perishable food items, and frozen meals for the whole family.

To find your nearest distribution site, check out our food finder.

8. The village got bigger
At its very core, the Community Schools model embodies the old phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” And not only is this village big, it is constantly growing. This year, Community Schools engaged in over 700 partnerships to provide resources to students. Among these partnerships, there were over 300 programmatic partnerships and over 280 resource partnerships.

9. A million reasons to celebrate
It takes hard work to make programs like these happen, so it sometimes requires thinking outside the box to get funding for certain programs in order to help kids soar. This year, over $1,000,000 in total grants were awarded to Community Schools to fund projects such as Out-of-School Time activities, family and community engagement opportunities, and safe zone projects!

10. New look, same great programming
The OCF Community School model has been running since 2017. This year, we were proud to give the program a fresh new look, which can be seen below. Be on the lookout for this logo in the coming months to find all the latest and greatest work happening in your neighborhood!

Community Schools are a partnership among the City of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, and school communities to remove barriers to learning and support the success of each student.

In each Community School, a Coordinator supports strategic partnerships and programs that promote wellness, stability, and learning opportunities for students, families, and neighbors. Each Community School also offers social service and attendance case management services, along with out-of-school-time activities. Because each community is unique, the specific services offered by Community Schools vary depending on the needs of a school.