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Data-Driven Blueprint

Friday Jul 1st, 2022

By now, you’ve likely heard about Community School Action Plans: the data-driven blueprints designed for each community school as a basis for barrier identification, removal and strategy implementation. Action Plans are completed during a school’s first year in the model and take between 8 and 12 months to complete.

Knowing how important Action Plans are to the model, United Way's data and evaluation team spent this past spring investigating potential process improvement to both the documents and procedures. At the five-year anniversary of our original community schools, we knew it was time to start digging into challenges and lessons-learned to discover how we can make the action planning process more impactful and efficient.

We’re excited to say we’ve made some big changes to Community School Action Plans, all of which make the documents more user-friendly for school teams and help guide data-driven decisions more smoothly. In addition to adjusting the matrix format of our needs/gap/strategy analysis for readability, we have transitioned from measuring progress in 20 outcomes and 4 domains to 12 school-based goals organized in 4 thematic pillars.

The pillars depicted below are modeled after the Four Pillars of Community Schools set forth by the Learning Policy Institute but were amended to address the needs specific to Erie’s community schools. The shift to pillars and school-based goals will streamline the way we talk about community school work, the way we measure impact and the way we evaluate strategies for effectiveness.

Starting this summer, we are also streamlining our reporting process with each community school completing their own Annual Progress Report, a collaborative effort by United Way office staff and community school directors. Annual Progress Reports will include a quantitative and qualitative review of the past school year, as well as a prioritization plan and timeline for the upcoming school year. The Annual Progress Reports will be a vessel to share exciting success stories, milestones and also challenges to consider as Action Plan strategies continue to be implemented.

Facing challenges head-on with a willingness to change and improve is a vital component of the community schools model, and one the United Way team is greatly familiar with! We look forward to implementing these revisions and continuing to ensure that Action Plans are effective tools to continue data-driven work at our community schools.