City Connects Links North End Students to Community Services

An update from City Connects related to the North End’s Eliot School:

City Connects Linked 300 North End Students to 550 Community Services & Enrichments in the 2010-11 School Year

In the 2010-11 academic year, the student support program City Connects linked 300 North End students at the Eliot K-8 school to 550 services and enrichment opportunities in their school communities and neighborhoods. As Boston Public Schools approach the first day of school, City Connects is poised to continue this important work on behalf of students during the 2011-12 academic year.

City Connects, a model of optimized student support working to ensure that all children come to school ready to learn and thrive, will be active in a total of 15 Boston Public elementary schools this fall, serving approximately 20% of Boston Public Schools’ elementary enrollment. City Connects uses an evidence- based approach to collaborate with teachers in identifying the strengths and needs of every child and then connects each student to a tailored set of prevention, intervention, and enrichment services in the community. Developed as a partnership connecting Boston College, Boston Public Schools, and community agencies, this school-based intervention cost-effectively addresses students’ academic, social-emotional, family, and physical well-being. In Boston elementary and K-8 schools last year, City Connects linked 6,100 students to 33,700 services and enrichments; 78 percent of students were connected to three or more services.

“Children living in high-poverty urban settings face countless challenges that impact learning and healthy development,” said Mary E. Walsh, PhD, executive director of City Connects and the Kearns Professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. “Together with teachers, school staff, and community partners, we are striving to ensure every student comes to school able to learn and thrive. Our work would not be possible without the rich array of services and enrichments provided by community agencies across Boston.”

During the 2010-11 academic year, City Connects staff at Eliot connected students to services and enrichments tailored to their unique strengths and needs, ranging from tutoring and mentoring to arts and athletic programs. All were linked to three or more services and enrichments. Examples of community partners serving the Eliot’s students include: Big Brother Big Sister, Boston Medical Center, Boston Private Bank, Fidelity Cares, Jeff Burger Karate, Nazzaro Community Center, the New England Aquarium ,North End Community Health Center, North End Music Performing Arts Center, Smart Smiles, Steppingstone Foundation, and Suffolk University.

Since its inception in 2001, City Connects has been collecting and analyzing data that demonstrates a positive impact on student achievement and thriving. Students in City Connects schools show significantly greater improvement than comparison-school peers in statewide standardized test scores (MCAS) and report card grades, as well as classroom behavior, work habits, and effort. The benefits are often largest for students most at risk. For example, by fifth grade, English Language Learners (ELL) in City Connects schools have literacy report card scores similar to non-ELL students in comparison schools—thereby eliminating the achievement gap in these literacy outcomes for ELL students. Additionally, City Connects students show significantly lower rates of retention in grade, which is a strong predictor of on-time high school graduation. And after leaving City Connects, students outperform their Boston peers in middle school and achieve close to state proficiency levels on both English and math MCAS.

More results and a full list of City Connects schools is available on our website:

City Connects is an evidence-based approach to student support that ensures that all children engage and learn in school by connecting each child with a tailored set of prevention, intervention, and enrichment services in the community. By leveraging the resources of community agencies, City Connects works efficiently within the existing framework of schools and society to alleviate barriers to learning. City Connects is active in 15 Boston Public Schools and 6 Springfield, Mass., public elementary/K-8 schools and was developed at Boston College in 2001. In the 2010-11 academic year, City Connects facilitated the delivery of 33,700 services to 6,100 students in 17 Boston public elementary schools. City Connects is supported by the New Balance Foundation, Strategic Grant Partners, the Hayden Foundation, the Ludcke Foundation, and Boston College. Read our blog at or follow us on Twitter @CityConnects.