Berea, KY—The Berea Independent School district will be a Full-Service Community School (FSCS) thanks to grant funding secured by Partners for Education at Berea College. The U.S. Department of Education grant will provide $2.5 million over the next five years. It was one of 12 FSCS grants awarded nationwide.
“We are excited about the opportunities that the Full-Service Community School grant will provide for our children and the community,” said Dr. Diane Hatchett, superintendent of Berea Independent Schools. “We are grateful to Berea College in particular for their on-going commitment and long-standing partnership with Berea Community Schools. Partners for Education is indeed just what the title implies. I can’t think of a finer group to work with on behalf of our children.”
The FSCS program provides support for the planning, implementation and operation of schools that improve the integration, accessibility and effectiveness of services for children and families. The Berea project will provide comprehensive services to the 1,092 students in grades K-12.
Central to the FSCS model is the integration of community resources to support the school system. “An important aspect of FSCS is the ‘bridge’ between the school and the community,” said Elmer Thomas, program director at Partners for Education. “When we are able to bridge that gap, we are able to offer a tremendous amount of support in both academics and wrap-around services. In essence, the school, the community and Partners for Education work together to make certain all needs are being met – from early childhood, to family engagement, to academic supports, to community input, to post-secondary success.”
The partnerships represent a multi-sector commitment to support student success in the community. Work by these partners began in January of 2018 as they reviewed school plans, ACT and state assessment data, community-level data and student- and parent-survey data. The partners also interviewed community members, administrators, counselors and teachers. This process allowed them to identify the needs, gaps and weaknesses in services that will be addressed.
Among the partners already participating in this work are the Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union, Kentucky Center for School Safety, KentuckyOne Health Foundation, Kentucky Out of School Alliance, Prichard Committee and White House Clinic.
These partners will continue to promote family and community engagement activities designed to support young people on their pathway to college and career success. In addition to activities traditionally associated with the school system, students will be offered support in finding internships, mentors and other resources needed to succeed.
Teri Thompson, vice president for strategic initiatives at Berea College, emphasized the importance of community partnerships. “Through Partners for Education — and other initiatives such as Grow Appalachia, the Brushy Fork Institute, and the AIR Institute — Berea College demonstrates its commitment to working in partnership with communities and families to build a better future for the region,” said Thompson.
Community members and organizations interested in supporting the FSCS project are encouraged to contact Thomas at Elmer_Thomas@berea.edu.
The Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) program is re-authorized under Title IV through Community Support for School Success, sections 4621-4623 and 4625 (a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA).
Partners for Education at Berea College uses a place-based, student-focused approach to improve educational outcomes in Appalachian Kentucky. By braiding services and aligning federal, state and private funding streams Partners for Education works to ensure all Appalachian students succeed.
Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally-recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.