Community schools

Program basics

  • A holistic approach to student needs through community partnerships that go beyond the classroom to provide a litany of services, including counseling and mental health resources, extracurricular activities, medical and dental health care, tutoring, and after-school care
  • Addresses out-of-classroom barriers to learning and development
  • Typically developed in partnership with educators, public health officials, and community organizations

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)


Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Target population

All school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Illinois, California, and Hawaii

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Positive effects on academic achievement
  • Improvements in student attendance
  • Potentially increased engagement from parents
  • Potentially increased graduation rates
  • Potential improvements in student behavior and engagement
  • Possible broader community involvement
  • Cost-benefit analyses suggest positive net benefits of approximately $4–$15 per dollar invested
  • Potential increase in student learning activities
  • Stronger relationships between school leadership and local government
  • Potential increase in student internship and job opportunities in the local community

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Promote the school building as a community area where educators, partners, and parents all feel welcome.
  • Create institutional structures that systematize the involvement of parents and community groups, incorporating them into instruction and after school programming.
  • Assign a community school coordinator to create channels for communication and accountability between the community and the school.
  • Use community assessments to identify the needs of the community and find partnerships to address those needs.
  • Operate on-site health and wellness services, or partner with a local clinic to offer immunizations and physicals.
  • Establish strong communication and relationships between the community school manager and the principal of the school in order to ensure more seamless implementation.
  • Commit to lasting, mutual respect between school staff and partner agencies.