What is a Transformational Community Schools Approach?

Transformational Community Schools is a long-term, place-based strategy for cradle-to-career school and systems transformation that will improve social emotional wellbeing and academic opportunities and outcomes for all students. Transformative Community Schools are not a program, they are an approach to how we do school. Families, students, educators, and local community members work together as partners to organize in- and out-of-school resources, supports, and opportunities so that young people thrive. 1

Trust, respect, and seeing students and families as partners, are essential to creating community schools. When students & families are a part of making decisions, we can expand our capacity to transform our schools.

When we honor the expertise and lived experiences of students, families, and the broader community, we improve the social emotional experiences and academic outcomes for all students. Embracing communities’ inherent wisdom leads to healing, joyful, and culturally sustaining educational experiences that transform students' lives in profound ways. This approach confronts the legacy and generational impact of divestment and racialized inequities in education, paving the way for school communities to heal. By prioritizing belonging, safety, care, and support over punishment and criminalization, we can reimagine our schools as powerful hubs of opportunity, joy, and belonging.

Together, we can create schools where children and youth, families, educators, and community partners have the support needed to thrive and transform the future of California.

Essentials for Community School Transformation


Source: Community Schools Forward. (2023)
Framework: Essentials for community school transformation.  



To realize this vision students, families, organizers, and advocates from across California recommend further strengthening the four pillars of California’s Community Schools Framework by applying a racial equity and inclusion lens to each pillar, and based on the understanding that authentically shared power and decision-making and racially just, relationship-centered school climate and culture must be at the foundation of transformational community schools.

4 Pillars of California Community Schools Framework Adopted in Jan 2022 Community Vision for Expanded Pillars for Transformative, Racially Just, Relationship-Centered Community Schools
Family and community engagement Active Student, Family and Community Engagement
Collaborative leadership and practices for educators and administrators Shared Power and Collaborative Leadership and Practices for all
Expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities Enriched, Culturally Sustaining, and Expanded Learning Time and Opportunities
Integrated student supports Integrated Student, Family, and Staff Supports
  1. Germain, E., Oakes, J., & Maier, A. (2023). Theory of action for community school transformation.