CPS Community Learning Centers

The continued development of schools as community learning centers taking place primarily within Cincinnati Public Schools is helping make learning a collective priority and creating improved conditions for learning.

A community learning center is a school that serves as a neighborhood hub, utilizing school space during extended hours, on weekends and through the summer to provide additional academic support, health resources, social services, arts programming, and civic and cultural opportunities to students, their families and the community.

The key component of a community learning center is the partners who provide services and support. To manage and align these partnerships, 22 community learning centers now have a full-time on-site resource coordinator, funded by a blend of public and private support.

In the 2008-2009 school year:

•           93.3 percent of community learning centers met or exceeded the benchmark

goal for attendance

•           86.7 percent met or exceeded the goal for student stability

•           100 percent met or exceeded the goal for developmental assets

The previous year saw increases across the community learning centers of:

•           15.1 percent in days of programming

•           95.7 percent in parent activities

•           123.8 percent in community volunteers

•           406.9 percent in parent volunteers

Community learning centers also have motivated providers to create networks around their area of focus. For example, Growing Well Cincinnati is a collection of health providers that work together to create coordinated, data-driven systems to ensure access to quality health and wellness services for students and their families within CPS. Similar networks have been created for mental health, tutoring, mentoring, college access services, outdoor and environmental programs, business volunteers, parent engagement, arts and after-school programs. Together, these networks comprise the Cross-Boundary Leadership Team, which meets regularly to coordinate and align its work.

Thanks to the work of Growing Well, immunization rates among CPS students rose from 71.2 percent in 2006 to 90.6 percent by 2008. This past year, more than 26,000 students, teachers and family members were given H1N1 vaccinations in the schools, and a sixth CPS school, Woodward High School, added a fully staffed school-based health center. These centers ease problems created by lack of transportation and layers of bureaucracy.

In 2008-2009 the community learning centers helped launch Fifth Quarter, an additional month of school and enrichment activities in CPS’s 13 lowest performing schools. Resource coordinators and the Cross-Boundary Leadership Team leveraged resources and organized partners to bring students everything from ballroom dancing to sign language, on top of daily math and reading instruction. The development of Cincinnati’s community learning centers includes a neighborhood by neighborhood community engagement process. In addition to thorough needs assessments and asset mappings, regular community meetings help prioritize everything from the design of new facilities to the partnerships that populate the school. The community drives the vision for what its community learning center should be.