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So you didn't get (or never applied for) a CCSPP grant! Now what?

Team CSLXMay 16, 2024

So you didn't get (or never applied for) a CCSPP grant! Now what?

Clay Kilby

When the California Board of Education approved the CCSPP Implementation Grant Cohort 3 recipients, many LEAs and their schools were on the list…and many were not. Whether you applied and weren’t funded or never even applied, you can (and should!) still move forward with your plans for community school development.

While we congratulate the successful applicants, we also know, from our years of experience (and deep in our bones), that the community school movement in California predates the CCSPP grants. Before the CCSPP, before the Federal Full-Service Community Schools grants, and before California’s Local Control Funding Formula gave schools and districts more flexibility around how they used funds, schools and districts were doing whole-child, and whole-systems, community school work. Indeed, a grant does not a community school make.

Community school work has been underway in California (and elsewhere) for decades, and will continue beyond the life of CCSPP grants.

Additionally, it’s important that we view the CCSPP funds not as sustaining funds but as seed money. What’s the difference? We’ve been recommending that LEAs use CCSPP grants to build the relationships, trust, capacities and skills necessary to build and sustain CS work; not programs and positions. So if you weren’t awarded funding or didn’t even apply, this is NOT the end of your CS journey.

See, the thing is, previous grants and funding initiatives have also been instrumental to building community schools. From Healthy Start in the early 2000s, to how some LEAs used 21st Century Community Learning Center funds, to allocating resources through LCFF, to organizing MTSS teams around whole-child development and outcomes, CS practitioners today are building off of the foundation set by people who have been doing this work for years.

So if you applied for a CCSPP grant and weren’t funded (or only some of your sites were funded), this is still an opportunity to continue strategizing. Take a look at your implementation plan – prioritize your goals, and loop back with the people who helped craft the plan. Do these priorities still hold?

Second, think about WHO within your community – hint, hint, community partners are often an untapped resource – might support the strategy and leadership functions of the Community School Coordinator (CSC). Remember that people have been doing CS work for years without being able to hire a full-time CSC, and you may also pull a page from our rural partners’ CS playbooks. Think about your sites – can someone sitting at the LEA level work in partnership with principals and leadership teams to fulfill the CSC function in a more centralized way? Can the role be shared across two or three schools? Do you have existing team members in place who could take on some of these functions? Could the functions be spread across a couple of different roles or structures?

Along the same lines, look at the existing teams you have in place and map their activities to the role that CS leadership teams and advisory councils play. Who is missing? How can you create bridges across their work? Build those teams’ abilities to connect with interest holders and gather and analyze data. Check in with them about shared leadership and inclusive decision making structures and help support their skill development in those areas, too.

Next, take a look at the alphabet initiatives you already have underway – UPK, UTK, ELOP, MTSS, PBIS, linked learning, family engagement and other efforts. Bring together the people and partners working on each and create a “roundtable” with regular meetings, focused on aligning around goals, priorities, and data. This kind of alignment is part of the promise of CS development, and it’s “cost-neutral.

Look at the Community Schools Forward CS Essentials Framework. Take stock of where you are on the enabling conditions – trusting relationships, shared vision, inclusive decision making and actionable data – and make a plan for ways to build up your teams’ strengths in these elements of CS work. Consider investing in or centering existing professional development around building these capacities. Recalibrate existing teams to be more focused on shared leadership and inclusive decision making. Look for ways to move from transactional family engagement to transformative family engagement, and to incorporating youth voice into decision making. Bring together partners connected to your LEA and/or sites and engage them as partners in this effort.

Or, you might be an LEA who has some CCSPP-funded sites and other sites without funding but an appetite for CS development. Consider making capacity building opportunities available to all sites (not just the ones on your grant). If you’re going to host a CS 101 session, invite teams from all your sites. Help all of your schools understand whole-child development, build capacities to engage interest holders, and build partnerships with their communities. If you’re going to convene site-leader communities of practice, consider extending the invitation to non-CCSPP sites, too.

Community school work at its core is not about money. It’s about relationships. It’s about collaboration, trust and behaviors. It’s about adults doing their work differently, partnering differently, relating to each other differently so as to create schools where students can thrive. This work isn’t easy, with or without a grant. But you don’t have to abandon the work in the absence of a grant.