Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
students and adults cross the street with a cut out of a bus that says "walking bus"

Meeting the needs of students with Community Schools

Community Schools are public schools that provide services and support that fit each neighborhood’s needs, created and run by the people who know our children best—all working together.
Community Schools are built with the understanding that students often come to the classroom with challenges that impact their ability to learn, explore, and develop to their greatest potential.  

Because learning never happens in isolation, community schools focus on what students in the community truly need to succeed—whether it’s free healthy meals, health care, tutoring, mental health counseling, or other tailored services before, during, and after school.  

Community schools identify these needs by bringing together: 

  • academics,  
  • health and social services,  
  • youth and community development; and  
  • community engagement. 

So how do we come together as a community to help our students overcome the barriers in their lives and achieve their dreams? Enter the Community Schools model. 

Kerry Motoviloff
“Having community schools is the perfect way to ensure that the system answers to the community, not the other way around.”
No matter our race, background, or ZIP code, we all want our neighborhood public schools to inspire imagination, cultivate curiosity and critical thinking, and ensure our children can live fulfilling lives.  

At present, more than 25 million students in America’s public schools live in under-resourced households, the highest proportion in generations.  

More and more students are coming to school hungry, many face unstable housing situations or move frequently, and many do not have access to regular pediatric well-visits.  

Community schools provide not only tremendous opportunities for learning and success for students, but they also offer hope, opportunity, and transformation. 

Community schools meet the unique needs of their students head on. 

 A choir of voices working together to improve learning and build healthier communities in harmony.

A better future of public education is possible, and it’s already happening in neighborhoods around the country. 

Community-Centered Transformation

Here are a few stories of how community schools are responding to the needs of their students.

Remove Barriers to Learning

The problems students experience in and outside of school are intertwined. The community schools model aims to tackle these challenges together.
south division high school

Mental Health Support

Community schools help meet the mental health needs of students, especially after the trauma of the pandemic.
remote teaching covid

Aligning Partners to Provide Solutions

The community schools model enlists local partners to provide enrichment and other student services, taking pressure off educators.
A woman loads groceries into cardboard boxes

Prepare for Crises like COVID-19

For Sarah Madden and her children, Potter Elementary Community School has been a lifeline, not only during the COVID-19 crisis, but well before.
Marietta High School Good Vibes Cafe

A “Home Away from Home”

At Marietta High School, a network of teachers, counselors, and community partners have cultivated a culture of hope and achievement.
students and a community school

What are Community Schools?

Because learning never happens in isolation, community schools focus on what students in the community truly need to succeed.

Spearheading the Community Schools Movement

2010

Number of Schools: Hundreds

Federal funding: $0
2020

Number of States: 39

NEA launches the Community Schools Institute with a $10 million investment to help communities start and grow community schools.
2021

Number of Schools: Thousands

Thanks to NEA member advocacy, the federal government now provides $70 million in federal funding to support community school initiatives.
2022

More Funding

Congress and President Biden double federal funding for community schools.
“When you stop, ask questions, and genuinely listen to the answers stakeholders offer, you realize that small, simple changes can create large improvements.
Quote by: Catherine Gilmore, community schools coordinator at Gibsonton Elementary School, Fla
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.