Good News Blitz: Week 2
Catholic Schools Foundation and City Connects expand critical counseling services to three high-need school communities
The Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF) is expanding its partnership with Boston College’s City Connects student support program to provide whole-child, social-emotional learning support to six new Catholic elementary schools in the greater Boston area over the next five years. The first of these six schools, which will begin benefitting from this program in the 2020-2021 school year, are Immaculate Conception School in Revere, Sacred Heart School in Lynn, and Saint Pius V School in Lynn.
Since 2008, CSF has partnered with City Connects to provide counseling services to ten Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. This expansion comes at a crucial time when schools are addressing students’ emotional and mental health needs from the COVID-19 crisis.
Each CSF-supported City Connects Coordinator, a master’s educated school counselor, identifies the unique strengths and needs of every student in academic, socio-emotional, health and family domains. Following the initial assessment of these four areas, the Coordinators complete a tailored plan for each student based on individual needs. At-risk students receive more intensive one-on-one reviews and are matched with a combination of support services to meet their needs through the school, community, and other related partnerships.
“Given the events of these past few months, children are looking for ways to process these changes,” explained Donis Tracy, Academic Director at Immaculate Conception School in Revere. “This could not have come at a better time for our students. The opportunity to provide our students with a counselor through CSF’s City Connects program is something that I feel will benefit our students, our teachers and our families for years to come.”
Nearly half of all students at schools receiving grants from CSF for City Connects qualify for free or reduced lunch. City Connects Coordinators provide the customized approach that low-income students need to overcome the obstacles they face. Research shows that addressing these issues in a systematic way in elementary schools leads to benefits in the short-term as well as in the long-term.
“City Connects at Boston College is delighted to expand our partnership with the Catholic Schools Foundation by providing evidence-based student support intervention to three new Catholic elementary schools next year,” said Mary Walsh, Ph.D., Executive Director of City Connects. “Over the 13 years that we have partnered with CSF, the Catholic Schools Foundation has been an indispensable collaborator in our work to connect every student to a tailored plan of services and resources that help each student to succeed and thrive in school. We are grateful for the continued support of CSF and look forward to many more years united by our shared purpose to support the holistic education and wellbeing of children in Catholic schools.”
With 15 years of data to substantiate it, City Connects has proven that their model helps to significantly improve participants’ grades and test scores as well as attendance, retention, and dropout rates—both while students are in the program and after they’ve left. Additionally, the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, conducted a cost-benefit analysis which showed that the City Connect model costs less than $800 per student annually, but generates $3 in social benefits for every dollar spent.
“CSF recognizes the challenges students face inside and outside of the classroom and it is committed to ensuring that our most in-need students can succeed by providing them with critical resources through the City Connects Program,” said Mike Reardon, Executive Director of the Catholic Schools Foundation.
The schools that are supported through this program by CSF are those that serve the most financially in-need students and have a high need of at-risk students who benefit from the City Connects model. This expansion has been made possible in part through support from Porticus North America.