Knox County’s Community Schools Initiative is a strategy for using public schools as a hub for organizing community resources to improve neighborhood health and safety and student academic success.
Ultimately, community schools aim to enhance student learning and serve as a catalyst to achieve healthy communities, with schools at the center. This is accomplished through two main areas of focus:
- Coordinating with partner organizations to provide direct services onsite, including academic enrichment, cultural and youth development programs, mental, social, physical and dental health promotion and disease management, and other services to youth, families and the broader community. Improved coordination of these services in the community surrounding the school, and connecting students, families and community members to these services, is a key component of the community schools concept.
- Addressing the factors that influence community health and quality of life, such as educational attainment, economic vibrancy, crime, physical safety, social connectivity, and community involvement. Community schools accomplish this by actively engaging and empowering community residents, parents, students and school staff in a process to identify and address barriers to student and community success, and facilitating connections with and between community partners who can address these barriers.
The Resource Coordinator at each community school works to engage students, parents, community residents and school personnel to determine program and service needs and assets and works with community partners to coordinate and facilitate the delivery of services through the community school.
Family, partner, and community engagement
Expanded learning opportunities
Health and social support
Youth development activities
Tutoring and academic enrichment
School facility open for extended hours
With parent, neighborhood and partner input and involvement, community schools can be a positive center of influence to benefit students, families, and the surrounding community. Research indicates that these benefits include improved student learning, health, and attendance; stronger family engagement; an improved school climate; and safer neighborhoods.
(*) indicates a Project GRAD assisted Community School that receives additional support and expanded partnerships.