In 2009, the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership (CCS-IEL) embarked on an ambitious action research and development project, leveraging the community school system infrastructure present in three geographic regions: Tulsa, Oklahoma; Multnomah County, Oregon; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their goal was to advance research and practice around a pre K-3 approach that included strategic partnerships between the elementary community school sector and the early childhood sector. The Gardner Center partnered with CCS-IEL to conduct three years of implementation, and complete a formal implementation study. The Gardner Center and CCS-IEL then translated the learnings from this study into an evidence-based theory of change. In order to attend to multiple, interdependent levels of policy and practice, the theory of change assumes an integrated tri-level approach, attending to changes in three dimensions: settings, systems, and individuals. In this paper, the Gardner Center and CCS-IEL put forth an actionable framework that can help leaders achieve long-term, positive results for children, families, schools, and communities.
Geiser, K.E., Rollins, S.K., Gerstein, A., Blank, M.J. (2013) Early childhood community schools linkages: advancing a theory of change. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities.