The Community Learning Center (CLC) Model as Effective School Improvement Strategy

August 10, 2023 | Ohio

New white paper explores foundational efforts and policies to promote student wellness and success through CLC Model in Ohio

August 10, 2023


Schools in Ohio are in an intertwined, inseparable partnership with the communities they serve. Over the last three decades, a model of schooling that cultivates this local partnership to enable the best outcomes for students, parents, and the community is Community Learning Centers (CLCs), also known nationally as Community Schools.

These CLCs embody the principles of the Whole Child Framework, where the child is at the center, and the district, school, family, and community support their needs. The CLC approach makes the school the hub of the community where students, their families, and all community members can access enrichments and support. CLCs are a recognized school improvement strategy positively impacting attendance, behavior, family engagement, test scores, and grades, according to findings from the Learning Policy Institute, that also show a $15 return on investment for every dollar spent. Through their implementation, CLCs provide proven growth in student academic success, health, and mental wellness, as well as cost savings and assets gained for the state economy.

Ohio currently ranks 29th in overall child well-being, lagging in the bottom half of all states. This means many Ohio students continue to face barriers arriving at school healthy and ready to engage in learning, especially given continued pandemic challenges and longstanding systemic inequities. Integrating the services students, families, and their communities need to thrive within an evidence based CLC model can help transform negative state trends and outcomes in Ohio’s education system.

This white paper provides key recommendations for Ohio to begin taking measures to fully fund and support the implementation of Community Learning Centers. While many school districts have operationalized successful approaches to the CLC model, other districts that would also benefit encounter barriers to implementation with fidelity to national best practice due to the lack of necessary infrastructural investments of the state. With so many foundational components in place, Ohio must act now to maximize this opportunity and improve outcomes for all children and secure the future prosperity of our state.

Download the white paper here to learn more.

This policy white paper is authored in partnership by: Alison Paxson (Senior Policy Associate, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio); Christina Collins (State Board of Education Member, District 7); Nancy Peppler (Supervisor of Community and School Partnerships at Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District); Paula Jones (Director of Pupil Services, Brooklyn City Schools); Scott Hunt (Executive Director, Unit of Field Relations, Ohio Department of Education)