(WBNG Binghamton) New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday launched the NYS Community Schools initiative, a new statewide program he announced in the 2013 State of the State address that will transform schools in distressed communities into hubs for a wide range of support services for children and their families including health care, counseling, nutrition and job preparation services.
“NYS Community Schools will help give New York students and families a brighter future by transforming our public schools into community institutions that serve the needs of our neighborhoods,” Governor Cuomo said in a news release. “The State is empowering schools in distressed communities to give students extra help through health care services, family counseling, and employment assistance, all of which will strengthen our neighborhoods and give students in those areas additional support, both in and out of the classroom.”
According to a news release from Cuomo's office:
Under NYS Community Schools, approximately 30 schools will be selected in the first round to receive grants of up to $500,000 each over three years. These grants will go toward building strong community partnerships that deliver critical academic, health, extra-curricular and social services primarily in the school building.
The NYS Council on Children and Families, which comprises of the State’s 12 health, education and human services agencies, in coordination with the State Education Department has developed a Program Overview and Grant Implementation Plan to describe how NYS Community Schools will be implemented.
The State Education Department will accept applications until September 18. Participants will be selected at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
Governor Cuomo first announced the Community Schools initiative during his 2013 State of the State address to support students and families in New York’s neediest neighborhoods. The initiative aims to replicate successful models such as Children’s Aid Society, Cincinnati Community Learning Centers, Harlem Children’s Zone, Say Yes to Education, and Strive Network in distressed communities across New York State.
Community Schools emphasize family engagement and include strong partnerships with non-profit community-based organizations, local and state government agencies, higher education institutions, and the philanthropic and business communities. Their goal is to align programs and services to meet the needs of students and their families, while avoiding duplication and improving efficiency.
To ensure that existing funds are fully aligned to support the communities selected in the first round of this program, Governor Cuomo is directing all state agencies to prioritize Community Schools and their partners for related health and social service grants and programs.
The establishment of Community Schools was a key recommendation of Governor Cuomo’s New NY Education Reform Commission, which found that “by providing the comprehensive supports that students need within the school setting at every stage, we can ensure that our students are on track to be college and career ready.”
Commission Chair Richard (Dick) Parsons said, “Along with my fellow Commission members, I applaud the Governor for taking this important step to implement the Community Schools initiative. This is one of many important recommendations provided by the New NY Education Reform Commission that the Governor is putting in place. The evidence shows that Community Schools will have a significant impact on student performance and family well-being in distressed communities, and we look forward to their success.”
State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said "The New York State Board of Regents has a history of advocating for establishing programs for students and families that provide academic enrichment activities along with a broad array of student and family development opportunities within their communities. We are pleased to be partnering with the Governor to foster Community Schools across the state."