Community Schools Corner

This spring, ACT Now is hosting a community schools convening for community school leaders from across Illinois. Together, we will engage in a full day of in-person learning sessions, networking opportunities, and community-building. 

Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Time: TBA

Location: TBA

Registration: TBA

Driving: TBA

Public Transit: TBA

Hotels: TBA

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)

  • Wednesday, 5/1/24. Full-day of in-person networking and learning sessions, more details TBA (see above tabs).

FY23 Community Schools Trainings (2022-2023)

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.

To register for all ACT Now Community Schools events that are virtual, please sign up for the ACT Now Center for Afterschool Learning (ANCAL)

ANCAL is an online learning and training platform that is FREE for all Illinois afterschool and out-of-school time (OST) professionals.

Quarter 1 (Statewide Convening): The Extended Learning Day

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

  • December 6, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • We will examine how to intentionally incorporate family engagement into all aspects of CS work. The meeting will split into breakout rooms based on your role in your CS model to have more individualized work groups and conversations surrounding family and community partnerships. We would specifically love for you to invite family members, family liaisons, and community stakeholders!

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.
    • Illinois Institute of Technology

Resources from Past Community Schools Providers Meetings

2022 Community Schools Resource Survey

As we enter the final quarter of our FY22 Community Schools Trainings, ACT Now is initiating our annual Community Schools Resource Survey to gather feedback from the diverse field. What you share with us will help us to strengthen our professional development opportunities as well as craft our Community Schools trainings for next year! The survey closes May 20, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. By completing the survey, you have entered a chance to win a gift card! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Lesley Fisher Chapman (Program Coordinator) at:

FY22 Meetings


September 22, 2021: Different Structures for Community Schools

November 3, 2021: Family Engagement

February 16, 2022: Advisory Boards

May 4, 2022: Grant Writing and Finding Resources


October 13, 2021: Trauma-Informed Practices

  • Password: 35u#&!xz
  • Google Drive folder that has all the slide decks and some additional resources

December 9, 2021: Advisory Boards

March 23, 2022: Creating a Culture of Support and Supporting Staff

May 11, 2022: Policy and Advocacy


October 6, 2021: Trauma-Informed Practices and Mental-Health First Aid

  • Password: Ps7q%GNK
  • Google Drive folder that has all the slide decks and some additional resources

December 1, 2021: Bullying and Resolving Student Conflicts through Restorative Practices

February 23, 2022: Creating a Culture of Support and Supporting Staff

  • Password: K?^&^cS3
  • Google Drive folder that has all the slide decks and some additional resources

April 27, 2022: Family Engagement

FY21 Meetings

April 14, 2021: Evaluation & Needs Assessment

  • Password: @C#7*u4j

April 22, 2021: Advisory Boards

  • Password: HL8%4RsN

May 1, 2020: COVID-19 Resources and Summer Planning

  • Susan Stanton (ACT Now) informed participants of federal and state policy updates relating to COVID-19, highlighted different organizations’ responses to the health crisis, and shared ACT Now’s various resources on the issue. Susan also helped providers pivot towards summer learning and planning for next year.

April 22, 2020: COVID-19 Response and Family Engagement

  • Susan Stanton (ACT Now) updated attendees on federal and state policies relating to COVID-19, promoted different organizations’ responses to the pandemic, and shared ACT Now’s various resources on the issue. Susan also discussed how to effectively engage families remotely in order to support them through COVID-19 and onwards.

April 14, 2020: COVID-19 Response

  • Susan Stanton (ACT Now) shared with participants federal and state policy updates relating to COVID-19. Hannah Mngwamba (Metropolitan Family Services) told attendees the organization’s response to COVID-19 and best practices given the circumstances. Both Susan and Hannah shared insight into why implementing a needs assessment could help programs support youth, families, and communities during the health crisis.

February 20, 2020: Trauma Informed Care

  • This meeting was held for Chicago providers at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Jocelyn Vega (Trauma Specialist) from ICOY informed attendees about the complexity of trauma, and how it may manifest in various forms (based in history, race and ethnicity, inside/outside the home, etc.) given an individual’s identities. We also learned how to best support our young folks, colleagues, and families, as they navigate their life experiences. Click here to see photos of the event

February 7, 2020: Effective Messaging

  • This meeting was held for Suburban providers at the Skokie District Office. Susan Stanton (ACT Now) updated the group on state and federal policies relating to OST work and presented her presentation on effective messaging.

January 28, 2020: Building Partnerships

  • This meeting was held for Downstate providers in Springfield, IL. Susan Stanton (ACT Now) updated the group on state and federal policies relating to OST work and presented her presentation on building partnerships. Joie Frankovich (WeGo Together for Kids) also shared with attendees her perspective on building partnerships and highlighted WeGo Together for Kids.

FY20 Meetings

May 1, 2019: Family Engagement

  • Susan Stanton (ACT Now) shared policy updates and there were two presentations on family engagement from Sarah Ogeto (UIC) and Eric Werge (YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago).

May 6, 2019: Evaluation and Assessments

  • Susan Stanton (ACT Now) highlighted pertinent policy updates before asking Joie Frankovich (WeGo Together for Kids) to present on the topic of evaluation and assessments.

May 14, 2019: Needs Assessment

  • Susan Stanton (ACT Now) shared policy updates and then handed the presentation off to Hannah Mngwamba (Metropolitan Family Services) to talk about needs assessments.

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.