Center for Family, School and Community

For nearly 15 years, the Center has assisted schools, communities, and other key stakeholders in building intentional partnerships that achieve better results for every young person, from early childhood to adulthood.

This Center’s research, policy, and network development focuses on:

  • Identifying and conducting research on school-community connections;
  • Cultivating networks and opportunities for local collaborations to improve practice, share successes, and improve results for children, families, and communities; and,
  • Developing policies at all levels of government that support joint action to improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.
Major initiatives of the Center for Family, School and Community include:
Coalition for Community Schools

The Coalition for Community Schools, in operation since 1997, is a national alliance that brings together school and community leaders to advocate for schools as centers of their communities, with purposeful results-focused partnerships at their heart. With the support of a Steering Committee representing education, youth development, higher education, child and family services, and local government, IEL has helped to make community schools ‘central to reform’ according to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Nearly 40 communities now have major community schools efforts and are part of a learning community of local initiatives. Through the Coalition, IEL is leading efforts to have federal and state policy be more responsive to the community school strategy. Together with its Coalition partners, IEL has developed a results-framework and evaluation toolkit for community schools and conducts research on the effectiveness of community schools and how they are financed.


IEL’s Early Childhood and Community Schools Linkages Project supports local leaders seeking to connect early childhood programs more closely with high quality elementary schools that have deep roots in the community. The Linkages Project is assisting schools and early childhood programs in Tulsa, OK, Multnomah County, OR, and Albuquerque, NM to work together to help students enter school ready to learn and succeed by 3rd grade.

These communities are planning effective transitions for children and their families into elementary school, implementing effective parental engagement practices, helping educators, and early childhood providers link their practices more explicitly, and over time working towards state policy that supports these efforts.


District Leaders Network on Family and Community Engagement (FCE). This emerging peer learning and action network will strengthen systemic family engagement efforts in school districts and help school leaders and teachers better engage community-based organizations and community organizing groups.

Parents & Teachers Chat logo

Parents & Teachers Chat (#PTchat) is a social media professional development conversation that enables parents, family engagement practitioners, teachers and others to develop new and innovative approaches to partnerships.