Community Schools Grant Provides Green Dot California Schools Tools for Student Achievement

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Three Green Dot California schools recently became the recipients of Community Schools Partnership Program Grants funded by the California Department of Education. Over the course of five years, Ánimo Ellen Ochoa Charter Middle School, Ánimo Compton Charter School, and Ánimo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School will be awarded over one million dollars each to expand their access to community resources. These resources will be used to further the mission of transforming public education and creating equitable outcomes for all students.    

With Green Dot California's mission, the community schools structure aligns around eliminating economic and social barriers to learning. The model is built around four core pillars: integrated student support, family and community engagement, collaborative leadership practices, and extended learning. Unique visions have been developed for each of the three schools based on how best to support students and their communities.

Within the Green Dot California network, Chief Academic Officer Annette Gonzalez and Vice President of Education Damon Hands have had leading roles in the grant application and implementation process. Gonzalez spoke to the excitement around working with the current grant-recipients and the chance to replicate success across all of our school sites. “I think the whole premise around the community schools grant is about how you integrate all stakeholders into accelerating student outcomes,” she said. “This is an opportunity which is so aligned with our model that it just allows us to expand and grow our impact by learning from the schools that have this additional funding and spreading those ideas.” 

All three schools are working with the Helen Keller Vision Clinic, a mobile clinic that will travel to campuses twice a month to give free basic eye exams and provide prescription glasses at no cost. In addition, Ánimo Ellen Ochoa Charter Middle School is partnering with the USC Mobile Dental Clinic to provide on-site services. Both of these initiatives create comprehensive and integrated student support while lessening reasons scholars may not attend class. As part of extended learning, the Harmony Project, an afterschool music program, is being brought to Ánimo Compton Charter School after seeing great success at Ánimo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School.

The Community Schools Grant is managed by the Community Schools Coordinator (CSC) at each school. In this on-site role, the coordinator integrates various programs and services for students, families, and their neighborhoods. The newly onboarded CSC for Ánimo James B. Taylor, Sheila, has a passion for student success and achievement. “If I’m able to help one student, that’s more than enough for me. When I bring in resources and host a college or career day, students' stories go from 'I didn't think college was attainable' to 'I'm really interested and I want to go to this college.' My goal is to help students continue to see the importance of education, not just academically, but socially and emotionally, and to help them succeed in all aspects of life to be ready for their futures.”

Moving forward, the goal of Green Dot California is to extend the impact of the community schools grant further across our network. Ánimo City of Champions Charter High School, Ánimo Legacy Charter Middle School, Ánimo Venice Charter High School, Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School, and Oscar De La Hoya Ánimo Charter High School have begun the application process for the next round of grants. Following the lead of the three community schools that have paved pathways before them, this new set of applicants hopes to create valuable partnerships and expand the ways they can serve their communities of students and families.