Porterville Unified cashes in on $26M grant

Porterville Unified School District office in April 2022 - Photo by Rigo Moran

Porterville Unified School District nets $26 million CCSPP grant to further community school programs within the district

PORTERVILLE – The Porterville Unified School District has announced the awarding of a $26 million grant by the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) to advance community school development efforts in the district.

In the announcement of this award, Dr. Phil Black, the PUSD director of assessment and accountability, said the successful receipt of the CCSPP grant displays the strong commitment coming from PUSD staff across all school sites to build community partnerships, enhancing service to students widely.

“It is also reflective of the willingness of the Porterville community as a whole to partner in supporting the children of the community,” Black said.

The community school model has been around for many years but has seen a renewed focus since the COVID-19 pandemic. The model incorporates healthcare and extracurricular activities with in-class learning to provide a well-rounded educational opportunity.

“Community schools aim to support students and their families by providing a range of academic, social and health services, fostering overall well-being and educational success,” PUSD Migrant Education Coordinator Marilu Martinez said. “Schools extend their focus beyond traditional academics to include mental health, nutrition and family engagement, addressing the broad spectrum of needs that affect learning and development.”

Martinez went on to say that, by offering a comprehensive approach that includes extracurricular activities and community engagement, community schools lay out a solid foundation for both educational success and wider community well-being.

CCSPP grants have been issued since 2020, with the first cohort of funding totaling $45 million through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. In 2021, grants totaled more than $3 billion. The allocation for 2022 was more than $1 billion.

Board President Linda Darling-Hammond said the grants are “the largest community schools allocation yet under the state’s nation-leading initiative to transform schools through a child- and family-centered lens.”

Darling-Hammond said the grants and efforts to support community schools are “already beginning to pay off as we can see in the earlier cohorts of community schools — the gains that they are making. We are seeing the fruits of this work all over the state in both urban and rural contexts. We are seeing community schools show sharp reductions in chronic absenteeism, strong gains in achievement as a result of their engagement with families, the available health services, extended learning time after school and in the summer, connections to community resources, and innovative collaboration around professional development.”

The latest allocation will support 995 schools, 23 offices of education, and 288 Local Education Agencies (LEA). More than 2,000 schools have been granted funds since the inception of the program. Two agencies, the State Transformative Assistance Center (S-TAC) and Regional Transformative Assistance Centers (R-TAC) now work together to aid districts in applying for the grant funds.

Black said that, unlike many other districts throughout the state, Porterville Unified chose to apply for every school within the district to ensure support structures for students would be available, regardless of where the student attended school. That way, those supports wouldn’t be lost to them once the student advanced to the next school.

“The congratulations in the award are best focused at the entire community of Porterville and its surrounding areas, since it is the entire community working together that can best support the various needs that face our youth as they matriculate through their years in Porterville Unified,” Black said.

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