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More agencies paired with "wraparound" schools

Community agencies and institutions will pair with nine more CMSD schools to arrange outside support services customized to the needs of the individual schools and their students.

The District and the United Way of Greater Cleveland on Tuesday released the names of lead agencies that will work with eight of the schools to assemble community “wraparound" services. The services will include tutoring and mentoring and address problems like hunger and absenteeism that interfere with education.

The agencies and their schools include: the Cleveland Play House (Adlai Stevenson and Almira), Case Western Reserve University (Bolton and Michael R. White STEM), University Settlement (Fullerton) Burton Bell Carr Development Inc. (George Washington Carver STEM), Neighborhood Leadership Institute (Glenville High) and Cuyahoga Community College (Marion-Sterling).

An agency for Patrick Henry School will be determined later.

The wraparound program is entering its first full year and now serves 25 of the District’s 100 schools.

Most of the wraparound sites are Investment Schools that CMSD targets separately for academic and other intervention. Evidence so far is anecdotal, but it suggests wraparound services have in some cases helped raise test scores and increase community involvement, CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon and United Way President and CEO Bill Kitson said.

The United Way will provide each lead agency with $100,000 this year. CMSD is contributing $700,000 while United Way gives $200,000 and raises the balance through corporate, philanthropic and other donors.

Each school selects its lead agency, using a five-member committee made up of the principal and at least one teacher and one parent. The school and lead agency then hire a full-time site coordinator who is paid by the agency.

Wraparound assistance comes in many forms.

Shortly after coming on board early this year, the site coordinator at Robert H. Jamison School ramped up promotion of a Black History Month event and parent attendance soared. The Robinson G. Jones School site coordinator drew a huge crowd with an evening program featuring Eric Litwin, author of the popular Pete the Cat series for children.
The coordinator at Luis Munoz Marin School helped a family get back on its feet after a house fire.

Gordon has required that wraparound services include tutoring and extend to times when school is not in session. This year, he wants to improve attendance through strategies like phone banks and home visits.

“We’ll see a big, big push this year,” he said.

The Cleveland Play House now serves as lead agency for three schools, including Robert H. Jamison.

The Play House has traded on its theater experience to land a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program for girls at Jamison. GE Lighting supplied the program in return for arts education at the District’s high-performing MC2STEM High School, where GE is a partner and classroom site.

Increasing parent involvement in schools is the Play House’s top priority and comes naturally because the theater is in the business of gathering crowds, said Kevin Moore, managing director. The Play House spurred engagement at Jamison last school year by treating staff, parents and students to three productions.

“The arts are fun,” Moore said. “If there’s a fun element to a school day, students and parents are more likely to engage with the school.”

Gordon said the Play House and other lead agencies are a hit with their schools. When CMSD named a new round of Investment Schools last spring, the first question the schools asked was who would be their wraparound partners.

“The schools themselves have shown a real hunger and desire to figure out how these things work,” he said. “It really was an immediate reaction.”