Financing Community Schools: Leveraging Resources to Support Student Success

Last Updated: January 15, 2011

Financing Community Schools: Leveraging Resources to Support Student Success, a report from the Coalition for Community Schools, details how community schools efficiently leverage dollars to support student learning.

The November 2010 report highlights five findings:

  1. Community schools use the bulk of their resources to directly assist schools in meeting their core instructional mission, while also strengthening the health and well-being of students, families and neighborhoods.
  2. Community schools leverage $3 for every dollar invested by school districts.
  3. Collaborative leadership structures support finance and other key functions at the school and system level.
  4. A mix of public and private sector partners expands financial, as well as technical and political capacity.
  5. Full-time site coordination contributes essential site level capacity at minimal cost.
From the Executive Summary:

Community schools are one of the most efficient and effective strategies to improve outcomes for students as well as families and communities. Community schools leverage public and private investments by generating additional financial resources from partners and other sources.

This report looks at how community schools finance their work. It describes the resources, partnerships, and activities community schools generate with the dollars they have; where monies come from; and the mechanisms community schools use to leverage additional funding and build their capacity to achieve agreed upon results. The report draws on survey results and case studies from a purposeful sample of experienced community schools—both individual sites as well as district-sponsored initiatives.

Community schools are built on the simple logic that schools and communities are mutually dependent and that strong and purposeful partnerships between them are essential to students’ academic success. Whether in small towns, urban areas, or big cities, non-academic factors—hunger, safety, health, and other issues—spill into the classroom, affect learning, and create challenges well beyond what schools should be expected to handle alone. Community schools are one of the only school-reform strategies specifically designed to address both academic and non-academic issues by integrating and leveraging funds, working across silos, and partnering with local organizations to maximize resources. Inside community schools, we see an intentional leveraging of federal, state, and local funding streams—public and private—to provide supports and opportunities that students need to thrive both academically and beyond.

In this period of stripped down budgets, educators, community leaders and policymakers are more aware than ever of the need to use scarce resources to maximize results. Most schools, health and social service providers, youth development organizations, higher education institutions, public and private agencies and government officials work in isolated “silos,” concentrating on single issues. Experience teaches that these single issues overlap and that diverse stakeholders are all, in effect, responsible for the same children, the same families and the same communities. But bureaucratic organization and fragmented funding streams make it hard for their respective sectors to work together to better meet community and family needs.

The financial advantage of community schools is clear: community schools connect these multiple sectors and build the capacity to make a comprehensive approach efficient, effective and sustainable. For nearly two decades, educators, community leaders and policymakers have used the community school strategy to organize and leverage resources to achieve shared goals. Through partnerships, community schools align and integrate strategies to support students, strengthen schools, engage families, and help build entire communities where learning happens.

The report is available online at