What makes your school a "community school"? How are you working with community-based organizations on health, employment, adult education, social justice, or other issues?

AoC believes that the community school model is key to our students achieving academic, social and personal excellence. We partner with various community organizations such as: City Harvest (nutrition workshops for families); NYU Dental School (free dental checkups for students and families); LaGuardia Community College (ESL and GED classes); Family Resource Center of Western Queens (parenting classes); and Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (after school and summer camp programs). We sponsor an annual community fair which connects AoC families with community and governmental organizations offering free consulting on: legal issues (e.g., immigration and family law advice), tutoring, job training, insurance, government benefits, mental health services, financial literacy, and access to free or low cost computers. Some of the participants are: Consulate General of Ecuador; Qualitas Of Life Foundation;Urban Up Bound; Families On the Move;New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; HANAC Youth Services. This year a grant is allowing us to offer family literacy classes on Saturdays which are open to AoC families and other community members with pre-school age children. Additionally, the co-chairs of the AoC parent organization are ex-oficio members of the school’s Board of Trustees.

We integrate parents into our everyday existence and partner with after-school programs to ensure that our students have a safe space to work after they leave our after-school program. 

Both BBL 1 and BBL 2 are closely connected to the Bronx neighborhoods in which they are located, including participating as members of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce; working with the local food pantry to collect needed food products; coordinating the annual community health fair; coordinating the annual career day in conjunction with Harvard University; and participating in events sponsored by the Bronx leadership focusing on promoting a heightened awareness of gang violence.  Additionally, as co-located schools, we have worked closely with traditional public schools to share professional development opportunities; include students in our after school enrichment clubs; coordinate parent associations; and to establish a student volunteer program.

We plan to be a community school by partnering with community based arts and music nonprofits, as well as orgs that support the transition to high school like SAYA. Additionally, we are partnering with homeless shelters and housing support orgs (The Landing, Chhaya) to ensure that families new to the district know about school options in their neighborhood.

We typically have a Harlem-based non-profit present during large parent and family events to register families for health-related services, including free dental care, free transportation for hospital visits, and reduced prices for health products. 

We have officially launched our Start to Finish program this year with a director to work in the community for early literacy interventions and further formalizing our alumni program to follow our students through and beyond college. 

Our name has its roots in the people of the community we serve. We have partnered with arts-based, mental health, and environmentally-focused neighborhood organizations to provide services to our children and families.

We have an open forum style foundation built within our school culture. Specifically, this means that community organizations are able to attend any one of our Commumity Meetings, which takes place every Friday morning 8:30am - 9:00am, where students share their learning with members of the community (parents, vendors, prospective families, current families and anyone else interested in learning more about our school). Our school also has “First Friday”, which is a day where families are invited into their child’s classrooms to monitor their learning, participate in their child’s education, observe their interactions, and volunteer where needed. Finally, many of our standard school trips take place at local community entities such as Brook Park (complements our Science and Civic Engagement components.

We have an extensive internship program that supplies free interns for a wide array of community- based organizations. In addition our culinary program provides training on healthy eating for the local Bronx community.  They also cater affairs for several nonprofits and community base organizations.

We are fully integrating special needs kids in college prep program. We are collaborating with Historic Richmond Town to bring US history to life. 

We have a robust internship program. Students attend school every other week, working in the community the other week. Jobs are in many different areas. Student learn the “soft” skills. As a transfer school for over-aged, under-credited students, our students out-perform other transfer schools in the areas of regents (ELA), college readiness, and persistence.

We open our building up to various community organizations such as Make the Road (adult classes), the Jackson Heights LBGT Chorus and several other community-based schools.  We offer programs to students who attend Renaissance and who also attend district, charter and private schools.  We are also involved in a a Youth Mental Health Grant where we have trained people inside and outside the school to be able to identify youth who are in crisis.

We have established partnerships and relationships with numerous human services providers in East Harlem and beyond and have a close partnership with Boys Town New York, which is a key player in our Community Schools Project, which is a collaborative initiative among our board, staff, families and community.

As part of our commitment to leadership and service, St HOPE partners with Harlem Grown to educate scholars and families about the importance of sustainability, protecting our environment, and eating healthy.  Harlem Grown works with our Green Team of scholar leaders at breakfast and lunch every day to compost materials and return them to the urban farm a few blocks away.  Scholars then visit the farm to learn how to use the compost and grow healthy food.  Volunteers from Harlem Grown then host Foodie Fridays at the school where they cook with the scholars, typically using food grown on the farm.  Harlem Grown and the school also co-host Family Days at the Farm where all St HOPE families are invited to see this important work in action.  In addition to this year-long partnership, the St HOPE Student Government also chooses a service theme of the month where they work directly with a CBO to increase awareness and raise funds to help the CBO.  An example of this from last year was our partnership with ReFoundry, an organization that trains formally incarcerated people to recycle and repurpose furniture.  Through the partnership, our scholars worked directly with ReFoundry employees to learn about the difficulties of transitioning back to life after prison and preventing recidivism.  

Summit Academy Charter School has made community partnership a part of our mission and a component of our everyday existence.  Not only do our scholars work to make Red Hook a better place to live but as an organization we host several events (Community Health & Wellness Fair), in partnership with CBS’s and other schools to bring resources to our community and families.  Furthermore, we ensure that our mission of college acceptance lives in the hearts of our scholars and families and resonates in work that we do with CBO’s and schools.