Nov 06, 2023

Big Bets on Place-Based Learning: Robin Hood’s $5.5M Investment in the Next Generation of Community Schools

Robin Hood CEO Richard Buery Jr. and NYC Public Schools Chancellor David Banks announcing the new next generation community schools initiative at PS 268 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn / Photo: Christian Fernandez

Among the nearly 1 million students who attend New York City’s public schools, more than two-thirds are considered economically disadvantaged. These students, a majority of whom are Black or Latinx, face lifelong setbacks simply because of their starting point in life. Research shows that if school-age children successfully complete kindergarten by age 5, are proficient in their 3rd and 8th-grade standardized tests, and graduate high school by age 19, their chances of achieving economic mobility greatly increase.

This is where Community Schools come into play — they are designed to integrate academics, health and mental health services, expanded learning opportunities, and family support into the fabric of the school environment. This approach is proven to boost graduation rates, reduce chronic absenteeism and help students matriculate to the next grade on time.

In an effort to fuel students’ journeys toward stability, Robin Hood is stepping up its commitment to the community schools model. In a groundbreaking move, we’re investing $5.5 million to launch 20 new “Next Generation” Community Schools in NYC for the 2023-24 school year.

“New York City’s Community Schools have proven to be effective in increasing outcomes for our most vulnerable students by addressing the holistic needs of students — academic, social, emotional, mental health, as well as basic needs,” said Richard Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood. “This work means a great deal to me personally. Children’s Aid, where I worked for several years, has been a national leader in the community schools movement, and when I was in City Hall I worked closely with Chris Caruso [Managing Director of School-Age Children at Robin Hood] to lead the City’s historic expansion of community schools in New York City. I’m proud that Robin Hood was an early supporter of Community Schools and that we can continue to expand the incredible impact.”

Community Schools are effective at helping students reach their academic milestones and, importantly, they are a proven pathway out of poverty. These schools serve as hubs of learning and support, bringing together educators, healthcare professionals, and community organizations to ensure that students receive comprehensive assistance inside and outside the classroom.

This investment underscores our commitment to breaking the cycle of poverty through education, and the launch of 20 new “Next Generation” Community Schools is a shining example of how philanthropy and community collaboration can change the lives of young New Yorkers. By investing in these schools, we’re not just building a brighter future for these students, but also strengthening their entire community and laying a strong foundation for future students. It truly takes a village, and Robin Hood is making that village stronger than ever.