Elev8 Fall Learning Institute Held in Oakland, CA

The Elev8 Fall Learning Institute was held November 13-15th in Oakland, CA. Educators, community partners, evaluators and funders came together to expand their knowledge and skills, share lessons, and build and strengthen partnerships, both within and across Elev8 sites. Speakers included Oakland Mayor Jean Quan; Tony Smith, the Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District; Christopher G. Oechsli, President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies ; and Alex Briscoe, Director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency.

Participants were excited about the opportunity to spend time together. “Connecting with my colleagues from across the nation always gives me energy to continue persevering through all the challenges back at home,” said Syda Segovia Taylor, who leads the Elev8 Chicago initiative. “It gives me motivation to do better because I am reminded that our small piece is part of a larger puzzle.”

Panels covered such topics as how to sustain school-based health centers; partnering to provide legal services to families; integrating community schools into larger community development efforts; and promoting community schools—locally and nationally—as a strategy to support children, youth and families.

The conference also emphasized evaluation and data. One presentation focused on the link between participation in Elev8 after-school programs and youth outcomes; another examined lessons that have emerged from Elev8 about how to evaluate community schools. “The first phase of Elev8’s evaluation was really geared toward understanding and improving implementation,” said Meridith Polin, a Senior Evaluation Consultant on Elev8. “Over the last year, we developed a detailed results framework, which we’ll be using, moving forward, to assess how Elev8 is impacting students, schools and communities.” This work is aligned with other community school efforts, including those of the Coalition for Community Schools.

Conference attendees went on site visits, where they heard from the school community about how Elev8 Oakland has supported the school in meeting the needs of students and families. The Madison Middle School tour involved a visit to the school-based health center (including an in-depth look at their dental service area); a tour of the parent center; a look at their newly renovated football field (courtesy of the Oakland Raiders); and an opportunity to meet and hear from Elev8 Oakland’s students, families and service providers. Attendees reported that the parent stories were particularly engaging. Said one, “It was just really moving how the Elev8 parent center has provided critical support, as well as friendships, in times of need.”

Among high-risk students, users of school-based health clinics are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to graduate than non-users.
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