Framework: Essentials for Community School Transformation

The Essentials for Community School Transformation Framework was published as part of the Community Schools Forward project in collaboration between the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools, the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and the Learning Policy Institute.

The community schools strategy transforms a school into a place where educators, local community members, families, and students work together to strengthen conditions for student learning and healthy development. As partners, they organize in- and out-of-school resources, supports, and opportunities so that young people thrive.

Collaborative leadership, shared power and voice

Families, educators and community partners build a culture of collective trust and shared responsibility. Learn more about how collaborative leadership connects and strengthens communities through these toolkit documents and links.

Expanded, enriched learning opportunities

Enrichment activities, such as after-school, weekend and summer programs, emphasize real-world learning and community problem solving. Learn more about how expanded learning provides academic instruction and individualized support through these toolkit documents and links.

Powerful student and family engagement

When families are more involved in the decisions about their children’s education, students thrive. Learn more about how family and community engagement strengthens community schools through these toolkit documents and links.

Integrated systems of support

Addressing out-of-school issues for students and families, such as mental and physical health, helps remove learning barriers. Learn more about how integrated student supports create sustainable learning environments through these toolkit documents and links.

Culture of belonging, safety, and care

The school climate is welcoming and fosters trust among students, families, partners, and staff. Each person in the school community is valued for their rich diversity of experiences and is encouraged to share their views, knowledge, and culture. The school becomes a place grounded in healthy relationships, in which members feel safe and comfortable navigating conflicts and taking risks. Students feel connected to and are active participants in the school community.

Rigorous, community-connected classroom instruction

Teaching and learning in the school infuses high-level content and skills with real-world learning opportunities. The curriculum is deeply connected to the local community and students’ identities, cultures, and experiences, providing opportunities for students to engage in meaningful inquiry-based learning and problem-solving.