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United Way and Erie's Public Schools Launch Community Schools


At a press conference today, officials from Erie’s Public Schools in partnership with United Way of Erie County announced the first cohort of schools selected for Erie’s community schools initiative.

The community school model is a strategy for organizing school and community resources around student success. A community school is both a place and set of partnerships that help address health, wellness and the social needs of students and their families. The goals of community schools are to address non-academic barriers to learning and increase community engagement in the success of the school.

“We cannot expect children to succeed academically if they come to school hungry, sick or too traumatized to learn,” said Bill Jackson, president of United Way of Erie County. “Introducing the community schools strategy is one way we will strategically align United Way resources and social services to better address the needs of students and families. United Way is thrilled to help bring this proven strategy to Erie, which will put us on the trajectory to improve community conditions by building stronger children, stronger families and stronger communities.”

After an application process and months of planning and public engagement, Dr. Jay Badams, Erie’s Public Schools Superintendent, revealed the following schools will be the first of the new initiative:

1. Edison Elementary School (PreK-5)

2. Emerson-Gridley Elementary School (PreK-5)

3. McKinley Elementary School (PreK-5)

4. Pfeiffer-Burleigh School (PreK-8)

5. Wayne School (PreK-8)

With an initial investment from corporate partners that will fund the new positions of Community School Directors, these schools will implement the community school model to offer opportunities and services to students and their families including physical and mental health, and mentoring; more afterschool and summer learning opportunities for students; activities and classes for children, families and community members in the evenings and on weekends. To date, the following Corporate Partners have been confirmed: GE Transportation, Hamot Health Foundation, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and an anonymous donor

Each community school will receive a full-time Director who engages with the entire school community – students, parents, teachers, administrators, service providers and neighbors – to identify the most pressing needs, and work with service providers and social service agencies to bring targeted resources directly into the school.

Superintendent Dr. Jay Badams said, “Given the challenges facing our students and families, as well as the budgetary constraints of our district, we know that our schools need the support of the entire community to achieve student success. We believe that the community schools strategy will provide a framework to bridge the gaps between home, school and neighborhood in order to meet these needs more effectively, and we are excited about the potential for expanded collaboration with our community partners. Most of all, we are grateful for the support of United Way of Erie County, our initial Corporate Partners and the administrative teams at each of the five pilot schools for their vision and hard work to bring this model to Erie.”

Among the criteria for selection of each school was…

  • Interest and commitment from building administrative team

  • Interest and commitment from at least 80% of the school staff

  • Experience working with community partners

  • School, student and family needs

Why Community Schools Work:

  • Engaged school district leadership

  • School principal leading the vision and process at each site

  • Community School Director, employed by a community-based organization or institution of higher education, working full-time in the school with funding support from Corporate Partners

  • Site-based leadership team comprising parents, educators, community and business partners

  • Facility access before, during and beyond school hours

This is just the beginning of this transformational student success initiative. United Way in collaboration with community and funding partners looks forward to transforming additional public schools throughout Erie County into community schools in the future.

Tweetable Highlights:

  • .@ErieSD & @UnitedWayErie launch five pilot community schools in #EriePA #CommunitySchools #StudentSuccess

  • Community Schools launch in #EriePA, @UnitedWayErie & @ErieSD partner to address student success barriers

About Erie’s Public Schools

The Erie School District will create in its schools, and in its relationship with the Erie community, a culture of high expectations, collaboration, respect, and accountability.  We will actively engage students in their learning through a high quality curriculum and excellent teaching. Our primary purpose as an organization is to prepare our students to establish and achieve their higher education and career goals.

About United Way of Erie County

On behalf of the residents of Erie County, United Way brings the community together to provide resources that help people in need or at risk solve their problems.