Community Schools

Rochester Public Schools and United Way have partnered together since 2017 to support the wholistic needs of students. Intentionally working together to improve student learning, build stronger families, and create a healthier community. Riverside Central and Gage Elementary Schools, as well as the Alternative Learning Center, John Marshall High School, and Phoenix Academy are considered full-service community schools. 


About Community Schools 

A community school is both a place and set of collective partnerships between Rochester Public Schools, United Way of Olmsted County, the individual school site, and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health, social services, youth and community development, and community engagement leads to improved student learning, student well-being, stronger families, and healthier communities. The purpose of evolving schools into the community school model is to strategically and purposefully address barriers that students have to academic success. A full-service community school includes four pillars: expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities, active family and community engagement, integrated student supports and collaborative leadership and practices. See the Four Pillars Infographic for additional details. (Adapted from The Community Schools Playbook was produced for the Partnership for the Future of Learning by the Public Leadership Institute in partnership with the Coalition for Community Schools. 

The community school model involves all stakeholders to support students in achieving academic success and well-being. Community partners often are co-located in a school building to provide supports to students, their families, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Through this proximity, partners can build off and learn from one another. Through this partnership, teachers can focus on academics while partners provide support and services that support academic success. Stakeholders are involved in decision-making processes, planning and implementation of family engagement activities, and can utilize the school’s family resource room. 


United Way's Role 

United Way serves as the lead partner for the Rochester Community Schools Partnership. The community school model empowers teachers to focus on teaching while partners provide wrap-around services to students and their families, allowing each member of the partnership to do what they do best for those most in need: teachers teach, administrators administrate, facilitators facilitate and social workers handle social work. United Way’s primary role is to facilitate partners to develop new, stronger more effective ways of working together and to mobilize the entire community to improve educational, health, social, family, and economic results. 


Making a Collective Impact 

The community school’s effort, when fully implemented and functional, is an example of collective impact; bringing people together in a structured way to achieve social change. It is more than just co-location of programs. 

Collective impact starts with a common agenda, collectively defining the problem and creating a shared vision to solve it. Partners agree to track progress in the same way, allowing for continuous improvement. Collective impact fosters mutually reinforcing activities: meaning collective efforts are coordinated to maximize the end result. It encourages continuous communication to build trust and relationships among partners. Essential to a collective impact activity is a strong backbone organization, dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group. As lead partner agency, United Way fulfills this backbone role in the Rochester Community Schools Partnership. 

(Adapted from Collective Impact Forum)