The Alain Locke School will be the 12th school to become a part of Philadelphia’s Community School Initiative as a result of funding from Drexel University’s West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood grant.
The grant that is helping to fund the Alain Locke School in becoming a community partner, the West Philadelphia Promise Grant, was received by Drexel University last winter from the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of the grant is to improve the economics, health and well-being of neighborhoods in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. This zone is federally designated and is made up of some of the most impoverished areas of the city.
The Alain Locke School, located on 46th Street and Haverford Avenue, has 477 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Many children in the area surrounding the school are from low-income families that live in public housing or shelters.
The school will join the city’s Community School program, though the funding that supports the school comes from the West Philadelphia Promise Grant.
“We envision a Community Schools strategy benefiting Locke through improving access to resources and increased parent and community engagement. We want parents and neighbors to see Locke as a hub that can address their social, emotional, academic and health care needs. A Community Schools approach will expand what we have to offer the community, and complement our efforts to improve students’ reading and math levels and prepare them for success,” Katherine Carter, the principal of the Locke school, told DrexelNow.
Community Schools are Philadelphia public schools where a coordinator works with both the school and the community to provide services that are needed. Some of the services could include medical services, after-school programs and job training. Currently, the coordinator selection process is underway.
The specific needs of the school are determined by school officials, the coordinator and community stakeholders. The services are meant to address these needs and help students overcome non-academic barriers and increase engagement in the community. The overall goal of the Community School Initiative is to help the surrounding community in areas where they are struggling.
The initiative is run by the Mayor’s Office of Education and the School District of Philadelphia. It was started in 2016 with the goal of having 25 Community Schools in the city. Nine schools were established in July of 2016. Three more school will be added in 2017, including the Alain Locke School, bringing the total number of schools to 12.
“The city is a supportive partner on the Promise Neighborhood grant, and we are excited to work with Drexel to bring more solutions and opportunities to Locke and the surrounding neighborhood using the Community Schools model,” Susan Gobreski, the director of community schools for the mayor’s Office of Education, told DrexelNow.
Drexel University has had a standing relationship with the Locke school for the past several years. Through the Lindy Scholar program with the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, Drexel students have been tutoring and mentoring Locke students between sixth and eighth grade.
“A Community Schools approach at Locke perfectly complements the Promise Neighborhood goal of levering education to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” Lucy Kerman, Drexel’s senior vice provost for University and Community Partnerships, told DrexelNow. “Our vision for this partnership is to build a stronger connection between the school and increased health and economic resources available in the Promise Neighborhood.”