A Community Learning Center is a philosophy, a place, and a set of partnerships between a school and other community resources. The community learning center model builds on the core instructional program of a school by adding educational and life skill enrichment for the entire family.
Salt Lake City School District’s Community Learning Centers raise the achievement of all students by building on the knowledge and assets of the youth and community, developing authentic school, family, and community relationships and providing access to opportunities that lead to healthier communities.
The district has been investing in, and nurturing the growth of Community Learning Centers (CLCs) since 1993. Over the years, this commitment has led to the belief that five key core elements are necessary for the authentic and sustainable growth promoted by CLCs:
They increase accessibility for everyone in the family and foster a sense of belonging which increases family and school involvement and engagement. All stakeholders have a voice (families, faculty, partners, and leaders) and work to ensure a welcoming institutional climate that integrates community members at all levels of staff and partnership positions. They become trusted spaces in the community.
Educational Equity – CLCs provide high quality programming that focuses on social and emotional wellness for students and families regardless of race and socioeconomic standing. The centers meet students and families where they are and build new infrastructures of opportunities based on the strengths and local leadership of the community. CLCs ensure holistic services for students and families to address barriers to student and community growth and learning.
Asset Based School-Community Partnerships – Salt Lake City School District’s CLC model supports families, as they become educational advocates for themselves and families. The District values the community members as resident leaders and works to develop authentic relationships, which recognize them as the local knowledge holders. These resident leaders participate in defining the educational pathways that support student learning and community members.
Community-Driven Systems Transformation – CLCs build bridges between systems and communities to stabilize neighborhood infrastructures that support student learning. All services and programs are evaluated and their impact assessed to measure educational and community impact. CLC programs and services work to increase the knowledge of students, families and community members regarding how systems operate and community-based data informs programmatic decisions, focusing on five areas of program and service delivery.
CLCs address the learning lifespan through focus on:
-High quality early childhood education
-Student academic support and enrichment
-Access to health and mental health education and care
-Adult education and career pathways
-Community and civic engagemen
Joelma wasn’t really thinking about getting her high school diploma when she visited the Glendale-Mountain View Community Learning Center with a friend. The adult learning program caught her attention, and she asked for more information. She thought she would just try and see how it went. It wasn’t long before she started believing that she could get her diploma, and she started working toward a goal. Her dream was slowly becoming a reality – with a great deal of effort, dedication, and help from others. It took 16 months, but Joelma received her high school diploma!