RIPCS Overview

The Child Opportunity Zones, Rhode Island’s community school initiative since 1995, established the Rhode Island Partnership for Community Schools (RIPCS) in 2012. The mission of this statewide alliance is to mobilize state resources in promotion of the community school model as a proven strategy for increasing student success.

Focusing on higher need communities, a community school integrates academic enrichment and enhanced health and social services into a school, using the school as the hub of activity. Community schools also focus on family and community education and engagement as a means to support student learning.

Highlights of RIPCS accomplishments:

Advisory Council. Beginning in November 2012, the advisory council has met bi-monthly, adopted operational guidelines, chosen leadership, created working committees, and offered professional development known as Dirctors’ Shares. A delegate from the Rhode Island Department of Education attends all COZ and RIPCS meetings.
RIPCS Website. Our website posts local and national articles and information relevant to the community school movement. We collect online members, register attendees for our professional development activities, connect statewide partners, and distribute bi-monthly e-newsletters.
Advocacy. A delegation from the RIPCS advisory council meets annually with members of the Rhode Island General Assembly to keep them informed of our activities and national community school news, as well as to discuss ways we can collaborate. In 2016, COZ became a line item in the state budget.

Statewide Forums and Directors’ Shares: RIPCS has hosted two statewide community school forums, a 20-year celebration of the COZ network, and four professional development Directors’ Share workshops. With funding more limited in the last couple of years, the COZ partnership has not sponsored professional development events but continues to advocate for the community school model in Rhode Island and support the ten existing COZ sites with regular meetings of both the Advisory Board and COZ site directors. Past events include:

  • May 12, 2015 – Multicultural Family Support and Family Engagement Directors’ Share. Welcome by Mayor James Diossa, Central Falls. Panel members: Patricia Martinez, Executive Director, Family and Student Support, Central Falls School District; Abdourahim Akimana, Providence Scool Liaison, Dorcas International Institute of RI; Janet Pichardo, Director of Family and Community Engagement, Providence Public Schools; Candace Harper, Family Engagement Coordinator, College Crusade of RI; Channavy Chhay, Executive Director, Center for Southeast Asians; Denise DeBarros, Coordinator of Cape Verdean Students, Families and School-Community Partnerships, Central Falls School District; Mario Bueno, Executive Director, Progreso Latino. Location: Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, Providence.
  • March 10, 2015 – Just say Yes! to WINNING Strategies and No! to Summer Learning Loss Directors’ Share. Welcome by Mario J. Andrade, Ed.D., Superintendent, Bristol Warren Regional School District. Panel members: Jan Mermin, 21st Century CLC Manager & Expanded Learning Opportunity Specialist, RIDE; Joseph Morra, Senior Project Manager of Summer Learning, RIASPA; Mary Parella, Pawtucket School Department COZ, Director; Cathy Saunders, Director of Education, Providence Children’s Museum; Maria Mare-Schulz, Principal (retired), Sullivan Elementary School, Newport; Shevaun Keogh-Walker, Education Consultant. Location: Roger Williams University Global Heritage Hall, Bristol.
  • January 13, 2015 – Attendance Counts! Directors’ Share. Sharing Partners: Cranston Public Schools, Dr. Rosemary Burns, District Data Coordinator, and Susan Buonanno, Principal of Gladstone Street School. Location: Cranston Central Public Library.
  •  May 13, 2014 – Statewide Forum. Featuring Molly McCloskey, Maryland Campaign Director at Share Our Strength and past Managing Director, Whole Child Initiative at ASCD, and Hedy Nai-Lin Chang, Director, Attendance Works. RIDE Commissioner Deborah Gist served as opening speaker.
  • May 13, 2014 – 20th COZ Anniversary Celebration immediately followed the statewide forum, where appreciation awards were given to the state’s community school founders. RI ASCD and The RI School Superintendents Association also co-sponsored the forum.
  • March 27, 2014 – COZ 20th Anniversary Celebration acknowledged in House Bill 7995 and Senate Bill 2836.
  • May 22, 2013 – Statewide Forum. National keynote speaker Martin J. Blank, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Schools and President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, Washington DC.

If you would like to get involved with the RIPCS Advisory Council or an RIPCS committee, please contact us.

Reading Room

April 1, 2017
Community schools are public schools in The New York Times

February 7, 2017
Syracuse, NY seeks alternative to punishment culture at schools in The Crime Report (.org)

January 11, 2017
Improved communications in Milwaukee community schools on Wisconsin Public radio (

November 7, 2016
Community schools formally added to Baltimore schools portfolio in The Baltimore Sun

October 29, 2016
Nudges that help struggling students succeed in The New York Times

September 29, 2016
The 4 traits that put kids at risk for addiction in The New York Times

Fall 2016
Community schools help afterschool flourish in Afterschool Today

August 7, 2016
An effective but exhausting alternative to high school suspensions in The New York Times Magazine

August 22, 2016
Erie set to launch community school pilot program in

August 16, 2016
Community schools partnership works to embrace Milwaukee's children in On Milwaukee

August 9, 2016
NEA publishes article in support of community schools in NEA Today

August 6, 2016
David Kirp on school health services and NY community schools in The New York Times

August 2, 2016
Dallas community schools and politics in The Dallas Observer

July 2016
How marginalized families are pushed out of PTAs in The Atlantic

July 13, 2016
Pittsburgh School Board to vote on 'community schools' approach in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 26, 2016
Kids Count reports RI ranks 27th in child well-being in Providence Business Journal

June 24, 2016
Kids Count reports more RI kids in poverty but fewer uninsured in RI NPR

June 23, 2016
How community schools can beat summer learning loss in SFGate

June 6, 2016
When half of the pupils are homeless, schools serve important role in The New York Times

May 22, 2016
The lifetime benefits of early childhood parental supports and home visits in The New York Times

May 18, 2016
Community schools in NY find creative ways to boost attendance in DNAinfo

May 4, 2016
"Place-based" work helps students in rural Kentucky in HomeRoom: The Official Blog of the US Department of Education

April 29, 2016
Community schools seen as way out for some schools in NY state receivership in

April 13, 2016
Philadelphia officials discuss April’s national community schools conference in Albuquerque: momentum clearly gaining in Philadelphia Public Schools "The Notebook"

April 4, 2016
Albuquerque finds success with its 20 community schools in The Albuquerque Journal

March 23, 2016
Philadelphia mayor plans to establish 25 community schools over next four years in

March 11, 2016
The Director of the Coalition for Community Schools, Martin Blank, comments on the potential impact of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in The Washington Post

March 10, 2016
The Coalition for Community Schools publishes its latest research paper, “Transforming Struggling Schools into Thriving Schools”

March 1, 2016
New York State sets $250 million funding goal for community schools

February 22, 2016
Two superintendents discuss community school successes and lessons

February 11, 2016
David Denby of The New Yorker urges an increase in health and social services to improve student outcomes

Map of Rhode Island’s Community Schools