Community Schools

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In Asheville and Buncombe County, 20% of low income students do not graduate from high school. While every student faces challenges, those who live in poverty must navigate significantly more obstacles in order to make it to graduation. Every student that doesn’t graduate from high school faces a life filled with greater obstacles - impacting their long-term health and income and often determining whether or not they live in poverty the rest of their life.

Community Schools - Supporting Students, Families and Community

Working with Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and a network of more than 50 local service providers, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County is organizing resources that will support the health, education and financial stability of the whole family and neighboring community. By using our local middle schools as a district-wide hub for services, we can find new ways to address the needs of the community.
Our local work is built off of a foundation of research and the practical experience of a long list of communities that are implementing the Community School Strategy nationwide. So what are "Community Schools"? They are public schools that partner with families and community organizations to provide each and every student with resources, opportunities and supports for academic success. Community schools create strong ties among families, students, schools, and community and serve as academic and social centers to support innovative learning.
Learn more about some key elements of our work locally:

The "Four Pillars" of the Community School Strategy


The Learning Policy Institute created this helpful infographic to illustrate the elements that should be in place to support the kinds of community level change that we are all working to achieve. (Click on the image to see a full sized version of the document). 

  • Expanded Learning Time and Opportunities for students, families and communities
  • Collaborative Leadership and Practice among school staff, students, parents and community partners 
  • Integrated Student Supports include health and wellness programs as well as other programs that address barriers to student success
  • Active Family and Community Engagement uses a host of activities to fully involve and celebrate the whole community

The most important thing to remember about the Community School Strategy and the Four Pillars is this: "If you've seen one community school, you've seen one community school." This work will look different based on what each community wants it to look like. So while we are inspired locally by the work in places like Albuquerque, NM, Oakland, CA, or Lehigh Valley, PA what we are doing here in Asheville and Buncombe County is unique to our people and our places. 

Still not sure what the Community School Strategy is all about? Check out this animated video that further illustrates the concept. 

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