United Way's Community Schools Initiative Gains Countywide Momentum

Monday Jul 2nd, 2018

Officials from United Way in partnership with Girard and Iroquois School Districts are moving ahead with the transformational student success initiative known as community schools at two additional elementary schools in Erie County.

Community schools are places where resources from the community are used to improve student success. Community schools offer programs that focus on health and social services for students and parents. Rather than sending students to services throughout the city and county, these services are brought into the school. The schools become the center of the area they serve, with access before, during and after school hours, including the summer months. As needs of students and families change, so do the supports offered at community schools.

The Lead Partner of a United Way community school is an entity whose vision and mission matches that of the community school model and can point to specific services and strategies in their resource pool that will enhance opportunities for students and families to learn and be successful.

United Way is pleased to announce the Achievement Center has been named the Lead Partner at Elk Valley Elementary in the Girard School District.

“We are excited about the community school partnership because it will bring opportunities for students and their families that they otherwise would not have,” said Donna Miller, Girard School District Superintendent.

“The Achievement Center has seen, firsthand, the positive impact that the community schools model can have on a student body, their families, and the school professionals who support them. We are thrilled to be a part of bringing such a meaningful and effective model to the Girard community,” said Cassie Dundon, Achievement Center Chief Compliance and Planning Officer.

And, Penn State Behrend has been named the Lead Partner at Iroquois Elementary in the Iroquois School District.

“The Iroquois School District is excited about the opportunities that will open up to our students and their families under the community school model. With Penn State Behrend and United Way as our partners, we will be in a better position to overcome the challenges faced by our most needy families,” said Shane Murray, Iroquois School District Superintendent.

“The community schools initiative is redefining the active role between a school and its surrounding community, and we are honored to partner with Iroquois Elementary as we work towards building and sustaining a positive and meaningful climate for their students, teachers, and community members,” said James Hodge, Interim Director, Susan Hirt Hagen CORE at Penn State Behrend

In addition to the announcement of these lead partners, Community School Directors will be hired at each site.

The Community School Director (CSD) is a strategic thought partner responsible for executing the coordination and alignment of resources within a community school to achieve specific educational goals. The role of a CSD is complex and requires a dynamic person who can effectively navigate and interconnect multiple systems to achieve success for children and families. The CSD is accountable to the principal and the community school leadership

team. They lead the development and implementation of a comprehensive community school action plan that guides all of the partnerships and resources brought into the school, focused on removing barriers to learning for economically disadvantaged students.


Community School Director Application Process

Qualified candidates can go to to apply for the community school director position at Elk Valley Elementary School and/or Iroquois Elementary School by July 15, 2018.


United Way community schools already in place in Erie’s Public Schools include:

  1. East Middle School
  2. Edison Elementary School
  3. McKinley Elementary School
  4. Pfeiffer-Burleigh School
  5. Strong Vincent Middle School


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