Supporting Student Success Through Elev8
A national evaluation of Elev8 — a community school model being implemented in Baltimore, Chicago, New Mexico and Oakland — shows the program has made important strides since it began in 2008, despite implementation challenges that have arisen over the years. According to the Atlantic Philanthropies (Atlantic), the initiative’s primary funder, Elev8 has provided out-of-school-time activities and health care services to thousands of students and families.
Elev8 aims to ensure all students have the services they need, with a special focus on successful transitions to high school — which research suggests is a critical turning point in a child’s future academic success. The model is built upon four core pillars of support for both students and parents:
- learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom and traditional school year;
- high-quality school-based health services, including mental health;
- community engagement; and
- resources for families.
In each location, Elev8 is hosted by an organization with deep roots in the region that tailors implementation to the specific needs of the surrounding community. For example, Humanim is the current lead of Elev8 Baltimore, which Casey has been funding since 2009.
Elev8 Baltimore partners with five local schools to ensure students are ready to succeed in high school and in life. There is a full-time coordinator in each of the schools who works in close partnership with the principal and alongside the community’s youth-and family-centered programs. To date, Elev8 Baltimore has connected over 1,000 students with quality out-of-school time programs and supported the construction of two school-based health centers that have provided services to over 30,000 students.
While promising, Atlantic notes discrepancies in national outcomes. For example, the percentage of students with 10 or fewer absences per school year ranged from 45 to 80 percent across the Elev8 sites; between 54 and 81 percent of Elev8 students achieved a GPA of C or better; and between 79 and 90 percent passed all of their core courses. The evaluation points to several factors that may have contributed to these irregularities, including changes among school staff, consistency over time and other implementation barriers that can occur at each site.
The evaluation also highlights the conditions required for implementing a community school model. To ensure success, it recommends that local partners: 1) build a shared vision for the initiative; 2) develop strong and effective communication mechanisms; 3) dedicate ample resources; and 4) foster authentic family and student engagement.
As part of our commitment to ensuring Baltimore’s children are healthy and developing on track socially, emotionally and academically, Casey will continue to support Elev8 Baltimore’s efforts in the year ahead.