District of Columbia Public Schools received a $492,000 capacity building and development grant, which counted among the whopping $63 million in a new five-year Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) grant to support public and private organizations and institutions of higher education. 

The Department of Education (DOE) said it is working to create new programs or expand existing community schools in eight new states and territories, including Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. 

“Meeting the needs of the whole child is essential to help America’s students grow academically and improve their well-being,” officials said in a news release.  

DOE officials said that’s why the Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to supporting community school models across the country, which provide comprehensive support to the nation’s students, their families, and communities. 

They said community schools meet the unique needs of the neighborhoods they serve by bringing services into school buildings through local non-profit, private sector, and agency partnerships. 

This includes services such as high-quality tutoring, health, mental health and nutrition services, and high-quality early learning programs, among others, for students and the community. 

“Community Schools are an essential component of accelerating our students’ learning and supporting their social, emotional and mental health, and deepening community partnerships,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.  

“At the height of the pandemic, community schools connected students and families with vital nutrition assistance, mental, physical, and other health services, and expanded learning opportunities,” Cardona added.  

The secretary of education emphasized “students learn best when there is a comprehensive and holistic approach meeting their needs,” and announced that through the investment, DOE is funding the largest cohort of grantees in the history of the program.

“This represents a huge step toward the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of doubling the number of Full-Service Community Schools across the country and raising the bar for our support of children,” Cardona said. 

This year’s grant competition received the largest number of applications in the program’s history, which officials said showed how important it is to have a support system in place to address students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs.  

The new grantees are committed to implementing the four pillars of community schools, including expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities, and integrated student supports that address out-of-school barriers to learning. 

It also includes active family and community engagement and collaborative leadership and practices. 

The White House also released a new toolkit that shows how other government agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, can help. 

The announcement came while Cardona visited Turner Elementary School in Washington D.C., one of two District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) where FSCS funding will ensure a strong pipeline of services. 

DCPS is one of the 42 local educational agencies, non-profits, or other public or private entities and institutions of higher education to receive this funding. 

The Department conducted robust outreach to expand interest, and almost half of grantees in this cohort are first-time grantees, DOE officials stated.  
“Notably, this cohort includes the first set of grantees in the history of the program that have expressed a commitment to scaling the community school model across the grantee’s state. With this award, the Department has awarded FSCS grants in 20 states and territories.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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