California Commits $3 Billion to Community Schools Strategy

This article appeared in Language Magazine's January 2022 issue.

Last month, California state superintendent Tony Thurmond announced the formation of an advisory board to help guide the work of the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP), which is being hailed as the largest investment in school transformation anywhere in the nation. According to a news release, “It is a $3 billion project that will support schools that provide wraparound services for students impacted by the pandemic. Community schools integrate comprehensive, community-based services and programs that strengthen the health and well-being of students, families, and communities.”

The idea is that community school programs accelerate school transformation processes so that students, families, educators, and community leaders work together to maximize assets and address gaps in order to remove barriers to academic achievement. Through the strength of this collaboration, community schools improve the conditions for teaching and learning so that youth of color and low-income students and their families are welcomed as partners in the efforts to ensure every child succeeds.

The CCSPP will expand existing examples of successful community schools strategies statewide to help schools and communities most impacted by the pandemic. “I am excited to be leading the implementation of the community schools strategy at this moment in time when resources have never been more urgently needed by our students and families,” Thurmond said. “I have seen the significant benefits for students and have been working to expand the community schools model since 2012, when I helped the West Contra Costa Unified School District become a Full-Service Community Schools district.”

This community schools effort is expected to provide resources to a projected one-third of California schools across urban, rural, suburban, and frontier communities. The strategy is a key component of the Transformation of California Schools effort being led by Thurmond and the CDE. Other parts of this effort include universal preschool, universal meals, expanded learning programs, anti-racism training, mental health programs, and billions of dollars in resources to support the recruitment, training, and diversification of the workforce in California schools.