As early as the 1900s, prominent citizens such as Jane Addams and John Dewey began advocating for a "community approach" to public education. Specifically, in his 1902 speech, "The School As Social Centre," Dewey argued that it would take nothing less than a full community response to adequately address the demands being placed on social systems.
Just over 100 years later the realization that the "community school model" benefits not only students, but the community as a whole is once again gaining national momentum. According to a recent U.S News & World Report article, roughly 10,000 community schools currently operate nationally, representing between 6% to 8% of all the country's public schools.
Research shows that community schools have a wide range of positive impacts on students and throughout the community, from improving attendance, academic achievement, and graduation rates, to reducing disciplinary actions and increasing the physical and mental health of students and their families.
For over a decade, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and its partners have invested in the community school strategy locally, realizing that graduation from high school is a powerful predictor of future success for both the individual and the community where they live and that public schools are the ideal place to wrap our arms around our local communities to mobilize and support a robust network of people, partners, and resources to co-create opportunities for every person to belong and thrive.