Partnering with students and schools
At a glance
90% of students in City Year partner schools are students of color
90% are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
Responding and adapting to COVID-19
City Year quickly adapted to local needs in Spring 2020, leaning into our holistic Whole School, Whole Child (WSWC) approach and the strength of our partnerships. Working closely with our school and district partners to provide appropriate support, we creatively adjusted our services and supports offered to our AmeriCorps members to continue serving students, teachers and communities in 29 cities across the country.
Throughout 2020, City Year AmeriCorps members found creative ways to continue to connect with students virtually and support teachers and principals in new virtual learning environments.
AmeriCorps members focused on:
- Building consistent, caring and positive relationships with students every day
- Partnering with teachers to ensure students are engaged with their learning, which is critical to durable skill development
- Contributing a sense of joy, stability and belonging to the school experience
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.
New case study highlights City Year’s pandemic response
A 2021 case study by Motivation, Mindset & Equity Consulting captured City Year’s ability to respond and adapt to distance and hybrid learning during the pandemic.
- Modeling a personalized approach to learning and development at all levels of the organization allowed for nimbleness and innovation during a global pandemic.
- Prioritizing trust and strong relationships is the foundation for successful personalization of learning for young people.
- Leaning into building strong developmental relationships proved critical for maintaining student engagement.
City Year also published an accompanying practitioner guide, with practices, tools and recommendations for taking a relationship-driven approach to supporting student social, emotional and academic development.
My City Year has been incredibly adaptive and involved given our changing circumstances. Several of my students have said how my City Year has helped them regain their motivation and feel better during online learning.
Supporting principals and teachers
Our partners find our work valuable:
- 94% of partner principals agree that City Year has supported their schools’ transition from in person to distance or hybrid learning
- 95% of partner principals and partner teachers say City Year AmeriCorps members have supported the engagement and participation of students in school during the pandemic.
Evidence of impact: Supporting holistic student growth and learning
- 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.
Creating learning networks to build community, partnership and foster continuous improvement
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, City Year convenes a growing network of schools, called our Network for School Improvement (NSI), to create the time and space for educators to exchange and elevate promising practices that boost student outcomes and advance shared goals.
Schools in the network work collectively and individually with City Year to use continuous improvement practices to strengthen outcomes for eighth graders who are Black, Latinx, or whose families have experienced poverty. To support the acceleration of learning and improvement, we tackle problems of practice common across the network and track progress using indicators predictive of student learning, graduation and postsecondary success.
City Year and Johns Hopkins received a second, multimillion dollar grant from the foundation in December 2019 to accelerate this work. City Year will build upon the early success of the NSI in Milwaukee to validate and expand its model, growing to 10 schools there and expanding to Tulsa, Jacksonville and additional cities.
Through its efforts, 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.
Guided by City Year, NSI school leaders use continuous improvement practices, which rely on a repeated cycle of planning, implementing and studying outcomes, and adjusting approach to drive iterative changes that lead to more productive learning environments.
City Year seeks regular feedback from educators as part of the process. In a recent survey, 80% of educators reported feeling very or extremely confident in implementing continuous improvement practices, while a survey last year showed about 80% of educators felt their work was making a difference for the students they serve.
Early results from NSI schools, which focused on how schools attend to the social and emotional needs of their students, included school improvements that led to 60% of schools showing higher rates of students on track to graduate, a measure that takes into account proficiency in English language arts and math, attendance, and social and emotional development. School improvements also reduced educator use of punitive disciplinary practices, like suspensions.
Along with supporting NSI schools, City Year mobilized a new virtual network in response to the pandemic to benefit non-NSI schools, called the Action Community. Using best practices and adapting them for the hybrid nature of schools during COVID-19, the community brings together schools from across the country to share resources, build students’ sense of belonging, engagement and resilience, and attend to the well-being of educators during an unprecedented time. The Action Community will disband in December 2021.