With support from Drexel University, the Alain Locke School will become the 12th school to enter Philadelphia’s Community School Initiative. The program, which will be funded through Drexel’s West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood grant, will provide after-school, family and community programing at the school.
The Community Schools Initiative, which is run by the Mayor’s Office of Education in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, provides programs and social services to the community at a public school. These services, such as job-training, health services or community events, are based on the needs of the school and of the community, as determined by the school officials, a committee of community stakeholders, and a coordinator funded through the program. The goal of the initiative is to address students’ non-academic barriers to learning and increase community engagement while supporting the surrounding community.
“We are glad that the Promise Neighborhood will feature a community school beginning this year,” said Susan Gobreski, director of Community Schools for the Mayor’s Office of Education. “The City is a supportive partner on the Promise Neighborhood grant, and we are excited to work with Drexel to bring more solutions and opportunities to Locke and the surrounding neighborhood using the Community Schools model.”
The Office of Education started the program in 2016 with the establishment of nine community schools throughout the city, and added two more schools earlier this summer. Its goal is to designate 25 community schools throughout the city.
Drexel will support Locke’s programming with federal funding from the Promise Neighborhood grant the University received from the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of the grant is to ensure improved long-term outcomes—including economic, health, and wellbeing—for youth and their families in the West Philadelphia Promises Neighborhood. Drexel received the grant last winter to help support and strengthen the neighborhoods in the federally designated West Philadelphia Promise Zone, which includes some of the most impoverished urban areas of the country.
“We envision a Community Schools strategy benefiting Locke through improving access to resources and increased parent and community engagement,” said Locke Principal Katherine Carter. “We want parents and neighbors to see Locke as a hub that can address their social, emotional, academic, and health care needs. A Community Schools approach will expand what we have to offer to the community, and complement our efforts to improve students’ reading and math levels and prepare them for success.”
Alain Locke School serves 477 students in grades K-8. Located at 46th and Haverford Ave., the school’s student population includes many children who live in nearby low-income public housing or shelters. The school engages parents and community members through advisory committees and volunteer opportunities, and currently offers community and student services with support from Drexel and local nonprofits and churches.
Drexel has been a community partner with Locke Elementary for several years through its Lindy Center for Civic Engagement “Lindy Scholar” program. As part of the program, Drexel students serve as tutors and mentors for 6-8th graders at Locke. This new relationship strengthens the schools’ commitment to improving access to resources for everyone in their neighborhood.
“A Community Schools approach at Locke perfectly complements the Promise Neighborhood goal of leveraging education to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” said Lucy Kerman, Drexel’s senior vice provost for University and Community Partnerships. “Our vision for this partnership is to build a stronger connection between the school and increased health and economic resources available in the Promise Neighborhood.”