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So you got a CCSPP grant! Now what?

Team CSLXMay 10, 2024

An illustration of a woman facing a dollar sign signifying a grant on the left side, and a question mark on the right side. Woman has long, wavy brown hair, and is wearing jeans and a yellow sleeveless top.

Clay Kilby

Earlier this week, the California State Board of Education unanimously approved the Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) Implementation Grants (Cohort 3). If you’re reading this and your application was funded, a big congratulations!

You might be wondering what comes next, especially if this is your first implementation grant. But don’t worry – with decades of work in and with schools, districts, and LEAs, we’ve learned a thing or two and we have a number of “pro tips” we’ve compiled just for you.

We’ve organized those tips into a number of buckets, from communications, budget, and people, to capacity building, data, and planning for next year.

Ready to get down to brass tacks?

First up is communications.

Step One: Draft a letter letting site leaders and teams know about the CCSPP grant award

Start by anticipating the questions that people –especially those closest to the work–might have. Your letter could include information about the requirements and expectations of the grant, what principals and site teams can expect in terms of support from the LEA, a timeline for kicking off or kick starting the work, and any important upcoming dates (including important community dates).

It may be helpful to include a fact sheet detailing the grant objectives and priorities, a refresher on how the grant is organized, any assurances that principals and/ or site teams will need to sign, and specific expectations that need to be met before sites can draw down the funds (i.e., completed implementation plan that included interest holders’ participation in its creation, a strategy for fulfilling the role of the community school coordinator, or any other requirements your LEA has). Some LEAs have included an information sheet or slide deck for principals to use with their own interest holders.

You should also communicate about the CCSPP grant award WITHIN your LEA – let other departments know about the grant, its goals and purposes, and your plans. This is a great opportunity to connect other teams into your CS development work if you haven’t already (more on that later).

And make sure to let interest holders know – community partners, families and caregivers, other municipal agencies, and union leadership, to name a few. You could do this via community meetings, district and school newsletters or other communications, 1:1 meetings with partners, and family/caregiver meetings. You should also help principals and site teams clearly communicate about the grant opportunities and expectations with teachers and staff. Help your leaders and champions anticipate the questions that their community might have, and how they might respond.

Related to communicating about the grant, make sure you have clear communication about the budget and “financial logistics” involved in administering the CCSPP grant (e.g., what funds can/can’t be used for)..

Step Two: Work with your teams to prepare to receive and manage the grant

Connect with the budget office on uploading the funds and any internal requirements you might have to adhere to, and put a plan in place (if you don’t have one already) for receiving, managing and monitoring the funds – and for allocating funding to schools. Make sure everyone who needs to be involved in administering these funds are on the same page and that the sites understand how the funds will be distributed and any reporting requirements and schedules. You may also need to prepare your school board to receive and approve the grant.

Next, people and capacity building.

Step Three: Make a plan for supporting principals and teams around fulfilling the functions of the Community School Coordinator (CSC) role

At the district level, do you need to hire any CS team members? Who will fulfill the role of CS Lead, and does that person or team have the knowledge, authority, and resources they need to be set up for success? Are they empowered to make decisions and truly lead this work? District structures can oftentimes make-or-break the ability of sites to truly maximize this opportunity (see the outermost ring of The Wheel).

At the site level, make a plan for supporting principals and teams around fulfilling the CSC role. For some sites, that will mean identifying and/or hiring a full-time person. Districts can support that process in a variety of ways. Some districts have a process through which they pre-screen or pre-qualify possible candidates, narrowing the list down for sites based on parameters the district sets. Other LEAs have the principals submit hiring plans, including the names of possible internal candidates, and do the internal screening that the district requires. LEAs can also draft job descriptions, set parameters around qualifications and help guide principals and teams through the hiring and onboarding process. Remember, the regulations of the grant don’t require a CSC to be an existing or credentialed employee – oftentimes, community members or partners might be better situated to connect with the community.

Step Four: Maintain your focus on relationship-building

Throughout your CCSPP grant application development process you, your site principals and teams have likely been regularly connecting with interest holders around visions, goals and priorities. Don’t lose that momentum and build on that routine! Now that you have the grant, continue to strengthen relationships with families, caregivers and community partners. As principals and site teams think about their leadership roles, they can look at how other existing teams might be able to serve as an advisory council, or ways to expand inclusive decision making practices. They can think about their current interest holder engagement on the spectrum of transactional to transformational, and plan out what it’ll take to move more completely to the transformational end. They should be connecting families, caregivers, students and partners into visioning,meaning making, and decision-making.

Going hand-in-hand with the WHO (e.g., getting the right people and teams in place) is HOW to support their success through capacity building and learning. Create opportunities to all be on the same page from the start. You might have an orientation and “CS 101” session for site teams and other interest holders, ensuring that people all have the same understanding of the grant and its requirements, a shared vision for community school development broadly, an understanding of your district’s strategy and goals for the work, and, most importantly, a common understanding of your community school strategy.

Step Five: Make a plan for how you will use your data

If you do not already have a data system in place, start thinking through how you will use information to support CS development, including what kinds of data sites, leaders and partners need, ways they can collect data, what data the district can provide, and how to best support local data collection and analysis. We always recommend “Street Data” by Jamila Dugan and Shane Safir – a great resource to help you and your teams think through your data.

Step Six: Breathe!

You do not need to get all of this done now. The CCSPP grant is structured in such a way that you have time to get this work underway and make progress towards building the capacities needed to sustain the work. You have, at minimum, five years to grow. Rather than trying to tackle everything all at once, map out an arc of the year and the relationships that you need to invest in, starting with the 2024-2025 school year. Prioritize and loosely calendar capacity building topics. Schedule kick off and continuing-the-conversation meetings. Set targets and goals and create a plan for working towards those benchmarks over the course of the year. And, remember: this work is relational and developmental. Sometimes, you need to start slow together in order to go faster later.

Want more? We are always happy to help. Connect with us!