Partnering with students and schools
AmeriCorps members at a glance
61% people of color
70% college graduates
34% first generation to attend college
50% Pell grant eligible
Supporting students and practitioners
We gathered feedback from students, partner teachers and principals, learning what they needed most right now from City Year to help them reach their goals—academic and social-emotional growth for students; engaging learning environments for all; and care and attention to the mental health and holistic well-being of everyone in the school community. We learned that:
- Principals want additional capacity in their schools.
- Teachers want academic and social emotional supports.
- 95% of principals felt that City Year has been adaptable/flexible in responding to their school’s needs.
- 93% of teachers said they felt supported by City Year during the disruption of COVID-19 and that they were satisfied with the impact of City Year on their students.
Students also are determined to have a bigger say in their education. Throughout the pandemic, City Year AmeriCorps members have played a key role in helping students feel comfortable expressing their needs—and positioning schools to better meet them. Results from a student experience survey piloted at a City Year site last year showed that the majority of students expressed feelings of agency in their interactions with AmeriCorps members, and also feel supported by AmeriCorps members as they navigate academic challenges. Most students said AmeriCorps members really listen to them, consider their ideas when making decisions, and teach them how to self-advocate and ask for help when they need it—critical skills for life and workforce success.
New case study explores student experience during COVID-19
A case study conducted during the pandemic sheds light on how City Year adapted its services in response to the pandemic; shares what City Year has learned about the experiences of students and practitioners during COVID-19; and provides recommendations for practice based on these findings.
Challenges and Opportunities: Student and Practitioner Experiences During COVID-19 (June 2021) by Jade Eckels, City Year Director of Education Research and Strategy, captures the experiences of students and practitioners regarding attendance; social, emotional and academic development (SEAD); and equity during the pandemic and highlights emerging effective practices. Explore the report’s highlights.
Evidence of impact: Supporting holistic student learning and development
- Holistic growth: The more time students spend with AmeriCorps members, the more they improve on social, emotional and academic skills and on attendance, with students who are furthest behind benefitting the most.
- Academic achievement: Studies show that schools that partner with City Year are up to two to three times more likely to improve in English and math assessments.
- On-track indicators: There’s evidence that our work has an impact on reducing the number of students who are off track to high school graduation.
Navigating the virtual world has so many challenges. I can't say enough about City Year and their impact on our school, their willingness to support our school's initiatives and their flexibility in this difficult environment.
Network for School Improvement (NSI)
Throughout the pandemic, City Year’s Network for School Improvement (NSI) helped create responsive, consistent virtual communities where educators have found support to navigate overwhelming circumstances and persist in their work to improve schools. In a survey from the 2020-2021 school year, NSI educators said they valued collaborating with a larger network of colleagues and seeing tangible results from their NSI work.
Schools in the network work collectively and individually with City Year, using continuous improvement practices to strengthen outcomes for eighth graders who are Black, Latinx or whose families have experienced poverty.
The network helps schools move closer to becoming places where students feel engaged with learning, prepared to advocate for themselves and their learning needs, and contribute to their school community—conditions that lead to improved academic achievement in the form of higher grades and higher rates of course completion.
For example, an NSI school in Tulsa invited a group of students to analyze data and make decisions about how school leaders would work, and then implemented some of those ideas. In a subsequent survey, the student body reported an improvement in their relationships with adults at their school, and a higher share of students said adults listened to their opinions and ideas.
City Year has built upon the early success of the NSI in Milwaukee to validate and expand its model, growing to 10 schools there and extending to Tulsa and Jacksonville. The NSI plans to reach a combined 40 schools in the three cities over the next two years, helping City Year gain insights that will enable us to provide additional support to more partner districts across our network.
Advancing personalized learning and innovation
City Year works closely with school partners to evolve whole school learning models—with a focus on personalized learning tailored to both students and staff to better understand student needs—and leverage student voice to improve learning environments. In recent years, City Year has advanced new learning and educator training models with our network of partners through:
- Development of a competency-based, integrated social, emotional and academic development learning model in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and with a design partner school, Compass Academy in Denver, Colorado.
- Creation of personalized learning tools for adults in partnership with other nonprofit organizations focused on universal design, including online nano-courses and educator micro-credentials centered on student on-track indicator tracking and intervention in partnership with Arizona State University.
- Multi-school efforts to rethink holistic school accountability frameworks through the development of a pilot “total school wellness dashboard” that allows schools to more continuously and holistically respond to community needs.
Recognizing the role City Year plays at the intersection of research and practice, City Year shares our findings at national conferences and convenings and through guides that provide tools for practitioners and the field. City Year also works closely with educators to help schools respond to the pandemic and best serve students, including by:
- Working with schools to build their capacity to survey students, and analyze the results with students, to better understand and meet student needs.
- Mobilizing early in the pandemic a short-term virtual network, called the Action Community, to share resources and develop solutions to support students.
Another way that City Year works to create equitable access to learning opportunities is by supporting City Year AmeriCorps members who through their service experience become interested in a teaching career. City Year has designed and implemented a teacher residency fellowship program that focuses on whole-child development. By working in partnership with major teacher training programs across the country, City Year aims to help more talented young adults join a new generation of teachers.