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Vancouver Public Schools: Family-Community Resource Centers

Vancouver Public Schools
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Program: Family-Community Resource Centers: Removing Barriers and Building Assets to Promote Student Success

In a fight against poverty and migration, the Vancouver Public Schools redirected $2 million annually to help more than a dozen schools.

More than half of the student body across the district qualifies for federally-subsidized meals, up from 39 percent just eight years ago. Family poverty and migration are significant issues, especially at schools in the urban core areas, where more than 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

In 2008-09, the district developed a proactive, community-based approach to turning around the 14 schools serving the largest concentrations of students affected by poverty and mobility. Even with $20 million in budget shortfalls, the district redirected approximately $2 million in annual funds.

The district already had two community resource centers working to meet students’ basic needs and offering support to families. The district quickly scaled up to 11 onsite school centers and 13 Family-Community Resource Centers total. Along with meeting basic needs, the centers and its partners provide early childhood education, before- and after-school programs and referrals to community-based services.

Since 2009, the district’s community partnerships increased from 22 to 733 while the number of volunteers grew from 673 to 2,660. Parents participating in onsite classes or academies increased from 2,490 in 2010-11 to 26,490 in 2013-14.

“Family-Community Resource Centers are about the village – schools, families and communities interacting as partners to strengthen opportunities for students to learn and grow,” says Superintendent Steven T. Webb.

In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Vancouver Public Schools has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. The district was among 49 districts that were honored in the inaugural round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s new national recognition program.

“We are pleased to honor Vancouver Public Schools as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Vancouver serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

For more information about Districts of Distinction, including how to apply and a list of all current honorees, visit