Community schools

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • 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

Evidence and impacts


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

  • 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

Best practices in 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.