Government Affairs and Advocacy

Social Current Network Organizations Participate in Department of Education Focus Groups

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December 21, 2022

Several Social Current network organizations recently participated in two focus groups with the Department of Education to discuss ideas for advancing equity in the federal Full-Service Community Schools program. This program focuses on using local partnerships to integrate academics, youth development, family support, health and social services, and community development. Community schools also work to advance equity through efforts to pool resources, maximize community assets and engagement, and allow supports to be tailored to each student.

Community-based organizations, through their expertise and extensive experience, play a critical role in supporting educational success by:

  • Fostering relationships across the education system and health and social sector 
  • Helping educators understand and apply the latest brain science to create schools and classrooms where all children can learn
  • Linking classroom learning to students’ cultures and lived experiences
  • Supporting parents and communities as critical partners in educational success

Recognizing the potential of community schools to reduce disparities and increase educational success for all children, Social Current advocates for increased funding as part of its federal policy agenda. In the most recent fiscal year budget, funding for this program more than doubled—from $30 million to $75 million.

Social Current also works to champion the expertise of its network to policy leaders in the administration and on the Hill. In working with Dr. Bernadine Futrell in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Social Current serves as a key resource for the Department of Education in its ongoing efforts to gain insight from community-based organizations, elevate partnerships to support students and their families, and encourage new program applicants.

Social Current coordinated two focus groups for community-based organizations in the network to share their experiences as potential applicants, previous applicants, and grant recipients. Participants included:

  • Sycamores in Pasadena, California
  • Lampion Center in Evansville, Indiana
  • Cornerstones of Care in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Children & Families First in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Children’s Home Society of Florida in Orlando
  • Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center in Indianapolis

“We are thankful to Social Current for setting up the focus group with Dr. Futrell,” said Lynn Kyle, executive director of Lampion Center. “We found it to be very helpful in hearing her passion and hopes, sharing some of our thoughts and wishes, and also just having the real-time connection with her and the Department of Education.”

In the weeks since the focus group, the 2022 Full-Service Community Schools grant awards were announced. The number of awardees doubled from last year as a result of collective advocacy and increasing the dollars appropriated to this funding stream. Congratulations to the awardees! The 2023 application will be available in spring 2023. View the latest information about the federal program online.

Additional Opportunities and Resources

  • If you are involved in a community school initiative and are interested in receiving technical assistance aligned with the new set of frameworks and tools developed by the Community Schools Forward Initiative, submit an RFP by Feb. 10, 2023.
  • To gain access and influence in Washington, save the date to join us for our Igniting Advocacy training and Hill Day as part of Social Current’s SPARK 2023 conference, Oct. 15-18.
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About Social Current

Social Current is the premier partner and solutions provider to a diverse network of human and social service organizations. We offer a range of innovative solutions through COA Accreditation, consultation, impact partnerships, knowledge curation and dissemination, learning collaboratives, networking, public policy advocacy and mobilization, and trainings.