Van Hollen, Gillibrand, Brown, Bowman Lead Fight for Community School Funding

March 02, 2022

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (N.Y.-16) sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee leadership urging them to include $443 million for community schools in the FY22 budget. There are 300 community schools serving Maryland students across 16 counties and Baltimore City.

“Community Schools use evidence-based, comprehensive leadership practices to treat schools as community hubs and provide integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning time, active family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership and practices to support high-quality teaching,” wrote the lawmakers. “By leveraging these strategies and partnerships with established community organizations, community schools support well-rounded educational opportunities that meet the social, emotional, physical and mental health, and academic needs of students…we urge you to include $443 million for Full-Service Community Schools; This funding was secured in the House-passed FY2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill and matches the funding level included in the President’s Budget request.”

“Due in part to close partnerships between schools and community partners, community schools were better prepared to coordinate and deliver services based on community needs in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” added the lawmakers. “After Congress passed and the President signed the American Rescue Plan into law, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance for schools looking to use American Rescue Plan funding to adopt the community school strategy and improve student outcomes. Securing this $443 investment in the FY22 budget is necessary to provide community schools with the long-term resources and financial resources they need to meet the holistic needs of the whole child and support the well-being and success of students, families, and communities for years to come.”

Senator Van Hollen strongly supports President Biden’s proposed $443 million for the Full-Service Community Schools Program, which the President included in his FY22 budget, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee will be working to press his colleagues to pass these funds. Additionally, last year, Senator Van Hollen re-introduced the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act with Senators Brown and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to assist schools and districts in Maryland with planning, implementing, and expanding community schools and addressing the needs of communities impacted by COVID-19.  The previous year, Senator Van Hollen also joined Senator Brown in leading a letter to Senate leadership in support of additional dedicated funding for the Full-Service Community Schools program as part of COVID-19 relief legislation and successfully secured the implementation of full-service community schools as an allowable expense under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chair DeLauro, Chair Leahy, Ranking Member Granger, and Vice Chairman Shelby: 

Thank you for your efforts to finalize funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. As this work continues, we urge you to include $443 million for Full-Service Community Schools. This funding was secured in the House-passed FY2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill and matches the funding level included in the President’s Budget request. This funding level represents a $413 million increase from FY2021, which would support the creation of an estimated 800 new community schools. 

Community schools use evidence-based, comprehensive leadership practices to treat schools as community hubs and provide integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning time, active family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership and practices to support high-quality teaching. By leveraging these strategies and partnerships with established community organizations, community schools support well-rounded educational opportunities that meet the social, emotional, physical and mental health, and academic needs of students.

While evidence-based support for the community schools strategy predates the COVID-19 pandemic, this public health and economic crisis has underscored the urgency to invest in community schools and the infrastructure that support them. Many families rely upon community schools for critical resources, including medical, mental, and nutrition health services, before- and after-school programming that accommodate family work schedules, mentoring and youth development programs, technical assistance, and connection to resources, including Emergency Rental Assistance. Without connection and access to these basic needs, students are not able to fully engage in learning and communities are not able to thrive.

Due in part to close partnerships between schools and community partners, community schools were better prepared to coordinate and deliver services based on community needs in response to the COVID-19 crisis. After Congress passed and the President signed the American Rescue Plan into law, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance for schools looking to use American Rescue Plan funding to adopt the community school strategy and improve student outcomes. Securing this $443 investment in the FY22 budget is necessary to provide community schools with the long-term resources and financial resources they need to meet the holistic needs of the whole child and support the well-being and success of students, families, and communities for years to come.

Thank you for your attention and consideration of this request. 

Sincerely,