United Way Receives $2.5M Federal Grant for West Sac Community Schools

United Way California Capital Region has received a federal five-year grant totaling $2.5 million to plan and implement its community schools project in West Sacramento’s Washington Unified School District. The project was launched in summer 2022 after receiving a $200,000 grant through the California Community Schools Partnership Program. Through the federal Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Full-Services Community Schools grant, United Way and Washington Unified School District will create two full-service community schools as neighborhood hubs that provide access to a variety of services that support children, strengthen families and improve community health. 

“We know that schools are square one for ending generational poverty because they are a central hub for reaching families in any given community,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We are grateful to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education for recognizing the importance of the community schools model and our local United Way’s ability to partner with schools and nonprofits in our region to transform our community and ensure every child has an opportunity to thrive.”

Through case managers and site-level coordinators, the community schools at Riverbank Elementary School and River City High School will provide services that may include access to health care, mentoring, expanded learning programs, adult guidance and other services. Based on feedback from the community, services will be tailored to meet each school’s individual needs, such as a Wellness Center that provides direct support and trauma-informed care to students or hiring a restorative justice and equity coordinator to reduce punitive actions and promote trust, respect and sense of safety between the school, students and families.

The project has a preliminary goal to increase student and family participation in services by at least 20% each year. Other objectives include increasing the number of students who are prepared for kindergarten, student academic achievement, and the extent to which students feel safe, healthy and supported by engaged parents.

United Way has already begun working with the district on the planning process, including establishing a core leadership team, deploying a needs assessment and asset mapping analysis, engaging school representatives, providing students with leadership opportunities, convening agencies to expand school-based service delivery models, and developing a shared vision and implementation plan.

“The growing momentum behind the community schools project is humbling, and Washington Unified is grateful to be a partner in such a transformative opportunity with United Way,” said Dr. Cheryl P. Hildreth, superintendent, Washington Unified School District. “We can all agree that schools have always been the cornerstone of the community, but now, we’re re-envisioning what that looks like by providing greater access and opportunity to resources and relevant educational and life experiences for individual success.”

Washington Unified School District is the premier provider of high-quality education in West Sacramento, serving nearly 7,500 students across seven K-8 schools and three high schools. The district offers cutting-edge opportunities featuring free college savings accounts for kindergarteners, Spanish dual language immersion, visual and performing arts, career technical education, AVID, MESA, before and after school care, and more. For more information: www.wusd.k12.ca.us.

For 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has been working to end poverty by creating stronger, healthier, more compassionate communities. Since 1923, the local United Way has raised more than $500 million to fight poverty in the region and help families succeed. The local United Way has found one place in each community to reach the most families in need: School is square one for ending poverty. United Way uses its Square One approach to end poverty for local families by helping children excel in school, investing in families, and strengthening schools with resources to address increased poverty and deep roots of racial inequality. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.