ACT Now is the recipient of two federal Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) State-Scaling grants, one for Rural School Districts and one for Suburban/Urban Districts. With these grants, we will provide financial support, technical assistance, and targeted professional development to districts across the state in the implementation and expansion of the community school model. 

If you are interested in becoming a partner school, district, or Lead Partner Agency, please review the resources on our website.

On May 9th and 15th, ACT Now hosted identical informational webinars to introduce the project and answer initial questions. Click below to watch the recording and access the slide deck.

These resources are meant to aid you in your conversations about partnering in this project and transforming your community to a community school strategy.

If you have additional questions, please submit them here by Monday, 5/20 or contact Lesley Rivers ( 

Please fill out the below interest forms to indicate your desire to join the FSCS State-Scaling cohorts by Friday, May 31st at 5 pm CST.

CHICAGO-AREA CBOs: If you are interested in applying as a Lead Partner Agency (LPA) with a CPS school, please fill out the form in partnership with the school you’d like to apply with and support. We will share this information with CPS and use it to help us select the final CPS schools that will join the Urban/Suburban cohort. 

In early June, ACT Now will send out invitations to selected schools and districts for the Round 2 Interviews. The final cohort will be voted on in mid-July.

FY24 Community Schools Trainings (2023-2024)

This year, ACT Now is Together in Community with our community schools (CS) partners across the state. Each quarter, we will host a variety of professional development and networking opportunities for CS providers on topics suggested by you.

To register for the virtual events, you must have an ANCAL account. If you already have one, please log in and search for the event in the calendar.

Family Engagement and Supports for CS (Q1)

  • Wednesday, 9/13/23 in the Chicago Suburbs
  • Wednesday, 9/20/23 at Cedar Ridge Elementary School in Bloomington, IL
  • Wednesday, 10/4/23 at MFS Learning and Wellness Center in Chicago

Advocacy and Awareness for CS (Q2)

Building Community Partnerships (Q3)

Statewide CS Full-Day Convening (Q4)

Resources from Past Community Schools Providers Meetings

Starting in FY23, ACT Now began archiving our training recordings and resources in our online training system, the ACT Now Center for Afterschool Learning (ANCAL). ANCAL  is FREE for all Illinois afterschool and out-of-school time (OST) professionals.

To access these materials, you must be a member and/or log in.

After surveying the community schools field in the spring, ACT Now worked to restructure our professional development opportunities for providers across the state! Now, each quarter this year, ACT Now will focus on a different pillar of the community school model as we work towards creating a unified statewide coalition.


Quarter 1 (Statewide Convening): The Extended Learning Day

Quarter 2 (Statewide Virtual Convening): Family & Community Partnerships

Quarter 3 (Regional In-Person Convenings): Integrated Students Supports

Quarter 4 (Statewide In-Person Convening): Collaborative Practices and Leadership

  • May 3, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Community Schools Resources

Common Core State Standards (Parent Information)

Common Core State Standards (Provider Information)


Community Partnership Grant Recipient Highlight

The Afterschool Alliance has written a blog post and developed a full brief with insights from program providers around summer 2022. The takeaways highlight key challenges for the field as well as opportunities to expand programming for youth across the nation.

Learning Policy Institute Article: Shared Learning to Advance Racially Just Schools

The Learning Policy Institute has published an article elevating the community schools model as a key strategy for advancing racial equity. The article also provides key insights on how the pillars of community schools provide the basis for shared learning.

Learning Policy Institute: Social Media Toolkit – Community Schools and COVID-19 Recovery

The Learning Policy Institute has curated a variety of resources for community schools providers to utilize in advocacy efforts surrounding topics of funding the strategy, COVID-19 recovery, and more.

Learning Policy Institute Report: Social Justice Humanitas – A Community School Approach to Whole Child Education

The Learning Policy Institute has released a new report on the community school framework and highlights the Social Justice Humanitas Academy as a model for replication. The paper highlights how there is a common misperception that community schools primarily focus on the provision of external supports rather than influencing the character of teaching and learning to enable student success.

Community Schools Policy Playbook

This guide provides tools for advancing community schools as a strategy to improve schools, provide more equitable opportunities, and prepare students for success in life and as citizens.

Making An Impact – Community Schools in Illinois (2013)

What site-level evidence can tell us about what Illinois community schools are measuring, what outcomes are being achieved across the state, and how future data collection and evaluation should look to move the work forward.

Community Schools Model Shown to Offer Significant Social Return on Investment (2013)

In the first analysis of its kind of the community schools model, The Finance Project piloted a methodology to examine the Social Return on Investment of two Children’s Aid community school sites in Washington Heights. The case study shows that every dollar invested in the schools over a three-year period produced a $10.30 and $14.80 return in social value respectively.

Community Schools – Results That Turn Around Failing Schools (2010)

Great strides have been made by community school initiatives across the nation in their efforts to impact student achievement, attendance, student engagement, graduation rates, parent involvement and more. (The results in this report were gathered from community schools around the nation from 2007-2009.)

Professional Development & Qualifications

Community Schools Advanced Certificate Program\The Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools has developed the nation’s first online certificate program on community schools. The program is designed for school professionals, community-based service providers, or anyone seeking to have measurable impact on people’s lives and their communities.

Building Community Schools Systems

This report details the evolution of community schools initiatives, which are increasing in number and are being led by school districts. It first explains how concentrated poverty affects the student populations of high-poverty schools in very low-income neighborhoods. The report then describes the community schools strategy, before looking at the examples of three case studies

Choosing More Time for Students (2007)

This paper will define what expanded learning time means, highlight what model programs look like when used effectively, and address how to successfully implement such reform efforts. As will become clear, expanded learning time is all about using time in ways that greatly benefit our students.

Federation of Community Schools: Advocacy Toolkit

Family & Community Partnerships

Community Schools July 2021 Brief Released!

The Coalition for Community Schools has published a brief highlighting how Community Schools providers have continued to effectively respond to the public health crisis. There are strategies for making the case for this framework and spotlights of strong community schools programming. Our partners in West Chicago and Skokie, Illinois have been featured in this updated document!

What is a Community School?

Need some clarification on what a community school is and what they do for children and youth? Need help explaining community schools to others? Click here to see a quick 3 minute video provided by the Partnership for the Future of Learning on what a community school is.

Schools as Community Hubs (2015)

Effective approaches to the problems of struggling neighborhoods—from health to school success and poverty—require the focused use of integrated strategies. Consistent with this, community schools and many charter schools now function as hubs, helping to deliver a range of services beyond education in order to prepare their students to learn and to assist families. 

Youth Development, Programming, & Activities

Federation of Community Schools: Online Math Resources for Students

NWEA Literacy Requirements

PARCC Math Challenge

This tool provides guidance on how to help students in Illinois prepare for the Math section of the PARCC (the new state assessment). It includes sample assessment questions and activities to help students recognize patterns as they work to solve problems, rather than focus exclusively on the answer.

PARCC Reading Challenge

This tool provides guidance on how to help students in Illinois prepare for the Literacy section of the PARCC (the new state assessment).  It includes activities to help students read fiction and nonfiction stories thoroughly and thoughtfully, draw what they read, understand the sequence of events, think about themes, and compare and contrast stories.

My Progress & Chicago Progress

This guide is full of activities that students can engage in to think about Chicago’s history and future as well as their own progress and future goals.  Activities include analyzing speeches from famous Chicagoans, thinking about a Chicago career you’d like to have, and using art to show your and Chicago’s future. 

Guiding Nonfiction Reading

A step-by-step process for reading nonfiction text with students.

FCS Summer Learning Opportunities


Linked Learning Alliance and UCLA Center for Community Schooling Report: Linked Learning and Community SchoolsLinked Learning Alliance and the UCLA Center for Community Schooling have released a report on the importance of engaging young people and their families. The report elevates the Community Schools framework as being integral to the social-emotional well-being of youth and their career and college exploration opportunities. To read the full report, click here. 

Learning Policy Institute Report: Community Schools the New Mexico WayThe Learning Policy Institute has released a new report on community schools and the role these institutions play in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report highlights community schools in New Mexico, in particular, and focuses on community schools as an evidence-based approach that can help the state improve the educational success of youth in New Mexico. To read the report, click here.

Brookings Institute Article: Education inequity, community schools, and system transformation: Launching the Task Force on Next Generation Community SchoolsThe Brookings Institute has published an article about Community Schools and how the holistic model is a strategy for recovery with regard to the ongoing pandemic. Community schools are also responding to inequities present in many of Illinois’ communities. To review the evidence for expanding the community schools model and to read the full article, click here.

Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership: Coordinators Appreciation WeekCoordinators Appreciation Week is this WEEK (September 21-25)! Join ACT Now in celebrating our Community Schools coordinators by using this toolkit developed by the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership. Elevate Illinois Community Schools Coordinators and share why Community Schools are so integral in supporting young people and their families!

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) has published a new blog post about how counties are leveraging Community Schools to meet the diverse needs of communities across the nation. To read the full post, click here.

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) has written a blog post on the holistic ways in which many Community Schools in New York City have responded to the pandemic and supported communities with distinct needs. The article also advocates for the Community School to be implemented in more regions of the United States. To read the full blog post, click here.