Prop 47 Grant Application Now Available

The much anticipated Request for Applications (RFA) for the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund: Learning Communities for School Success grant program has been released by the California Department of Education (CDE). This grant program was established by SB 527 and AB 1014, following the passage of Proposition 47.

There was some initial confusion about the timeline and due dates, but the CDE webpages have been updated and now contain the correct information. Please consult the RFA for the full timeline on page 21.

Districts with high rates of chronic absence, out-of-school suspensions, and school drop outs will be given priority for these grants aimed at improving student outcomes by reducing truancy and supporting students who are at risk of dropping out of school or are victims of crime.

Click here to access the RFA and other required forms.

Letter of Intent Due Date: April 21, 2017

Application Due Date: May 10, 2017

We’d love to get a sense of who is applying — if you decide to apply, please let us know.

Please also feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Contact: Deanna Niebuhr, Senior Director of Community Schools, Partnership for Children & Youth
510-830-4200 x1605

Resources for Upcoming Grant Opportunity

The Request for Proposals for the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund: Learning Communities for School Success grants (through CDE, from Prop 47 savings) will be released by March 21 or sooner. We know from the legislation (SB 527 / AB 1014) that districts with high rates of chronic absence, out-of-school suspensions, and school dropouts will be given priority when grants are awarded.

We’re suggesting that districts start compiling their data now because the proposal writing timeline is expected to be very short.

As we’ve looked toward the release of this RFP, we’ve provided a number of resources and information over the past couple of months. Here they are in one place:


  1. Data Collection Webinar – Rocking Your Next Needs Assessment, Public Profit
  2. Overview of the grant opportunitiy, Children Now
  3. Making Data Work in California, Attendance Works
  4. In School + On Track, California Office of the Attorney General

Background Information about the Grant Opportunity:

  1. New Community School Grant Opportunity by Ed Honowitz, Education Policy Advisor of then-Senator Carol Liu, September 26, 2016
  2. Grant Opportunity: Get out your data and start planning now! December 14, 2016
  3. Tracking Chronic Absence: Getting Ready for Prop 47 Grants or Just Setting Up for Improvement, January 31, 2017

Tracking Chronic Absence: Getting Ready for Prop 47 Grants or Just Setting Up for Improvement

By Deanna Niebuhr
Senior Director, Community Schools Initiatives at Partnership for Children & Youth

The Request for Proposals for the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund: Learning Communities for School Success grants (through CDE, from Prop 47 savings) is expected out this March. We know from the legislation that districts with high chronic absence, out-of-school suspension, and dropout rates will be given priority when grants are awarded.

We’re suggesting that districts with high rates start compiling their data now because the proposal writing timeline is expected to be very short. For those that are not yet tracking chronic absence data, this is a great opportunity to put tracking systems in place. Whether or not you apply for a Prop 47 grant, this data is critical for making meaningful and steady improvement in student engagement and school climate, which are foundational to a whole child/community school approach.

Using your school data, the pathway to improvement can steadily be made clearer. This is especially true for chronic absence, defined as an individual student missing 10% or more of the school year for any reason (i.e. both excused and unexcused absences). Chronic absence in the early grades is highly predictive of later struggles. Research shows that chronic absence as early as kindergarten is associated with lower third grade reading scores and academic struggles as far down the road as fifth grade. This is especially true for students living in poverty and experiencing more than one year of chronic absence.(1)

Districts have been able to turn their numbers around when they have monitored chronic absence, worked with schools and families to figure out the nuances and patterns behind these absences, and then addressed the underlying issues unique to their school communities.

Attendance Works has free tools to use in tracking chronic absence. Their brief, Making Data Work in California: Leveraging Your District Data and Student Information System (SIS) to Monitor and Address Chronic Absence, lays out the basics on chronic absence and provides a checklist for setting up a tracking system.

If you have any questions about preparing for the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund grant, please contact Deanna Niebuhr at


(1) Hedy N. Chang & Mariajose Romero. Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, National Center for Children in Poverty: September 2008.

Grant Opportunity: Get out your data and start planning now!

Back in September, the Governor signed into law Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund: Learning Communities for School Success. This program takes savings from Proposition 47 and creates a grant program for school districts to implement research-based strategies to improve school climate and mitigate the school-to-prison pipeline.

The focus of these grants is to support “evidence-based, non-punitive programs and practices to keep the state’s most vulnerable students in school.” Using a community schools approach – integrating comprehensive services into schools through community partnerships – is explicitly named as an eligible strategy. Districts interested in launching a community school initiative should consider applying.

For districts that are ready for deeper dives into more targeted strategies, the list of eligible activities also includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Strategies to improve attendance and reduce chronic absenteeism
  • Restorative practices, restorative justice models, or other programs to improve retention rates, reduce suspensions, and reduce student contact with law enforcement agencies
  • Social-emotional learning, positive behavior interventions and supports, culturally responsive practices, and trauma-informed strategies

The California Department of Education (CDE) will be administering the grant program. The request for proposals is expected to be released in early 2017. Local education agencies (school districts, county offices of education, or charter schools) may apply for a grant. Funding levels are still being determined, but we know that grants will be for three years of funding. Grant recipients must make a matching expenditure of cash or in-kind contributions that equal at least 20 percent of the total grant awarded.

There are some good reasons to get started early in planning for your application. The RFP is expected to come out in early 2017 – January or February at the latest. And because funds must be expended in the current fiscal year, we are anticipating a quick turnaround time. In addition, planning timelines will be compressed as grant recipients will be required to align their funded strategies with their goals in their local control accountability plan (LCAP).

Who will receive these grants?

In selecting grant recipients, CDE will give priority to LEAs based on the following criteria:

  • High rates of chronic absenteeism, out-of-school suspension, and school dropout
  • Located in a community with a high crime rate
  • Have a significant representation of foster youth among its pupil enrollment

Get started now:

Based on these priorities, we encourage you to start your proposal planning process now so that you’re ready to go when the RFP comes out in the new year.

  • Gather your relevant student and neighborhood data.
  • Think about which strategies will make the biggest impact for your vulnerable student populations.
  • Think about which of your community partners can help to implement your strategy.
  • If you need additional assistance in thinking through how this grant can be most useful to your students, please contact us and we’ll help you or connect you to an organization that can.

For more information, contact Deanna Niebuhr at Partnership for Children & Youth: or 510-830-4200 x1605.

The above information was provided by Children Now. Click here for their summary.

5 Key Strategies for Financing Your Community School Initiative

When staff from San Mateo County, Redwood City, Redwood City School District, Sequoia Union High School District, community-based organizations, and private funders realized that they were meeting multiple times about different issues affecting the same children and families, they decided to formalize their partnerships through the creation of Redwood City 2020. Through this, the partner organizations created a vehicle for having more comprehensive conversations, setting priorities more strategically, and ultimately implementing programs with greater impact. Redwood City’s community school effort is an initiative of Redwood City 2020 and represents a pooling of partner resources. Despite declining budgets during the recession, Redwood City 2020 maintained support for its community schools, citing the significant return on investment they see each year.

In the recent era of tight public agency budgets, the community school approach has offered a strategic method for making tough budget decisions – making the most of existing resources. The following are five key strategies for financing your community school initiative. This information was pulled from a brief by the Partnership for Children & Youth, profiling five different community school initiatives.

1. Community schools are a community-wide investment
A common misconception about community schools is that this work is the district’s responsibility, when schools and their teachers are already stretched to the limit. On the contrary, the community school approach is about school districts turning to the community (especially county and city agencies) to help provide services and programs outside the expertise and beyond the resources of schools. The funding matrices in the Community Profiles section of the brief will show that school districts are contributing much less than 50% of the total resources. In Sacramento City Unified School District, for example, 85% of the overall budget for the initiative comes from partners or outside grants.

2. Don’t rely on a specific grant
While many communities successfully use competitive grants, such as the Full Service Community Schools or Promise Neighborhoods grants, this funding is often not sustainable. While additional funding may be helpful, it is important to note that many community school efforts have been launched in response to severe budget shortages as a way to use existing funds more strategically. Funding for community schools comes primarily from its partners, not from a specific grant or funding stream.

3. Align existing resources by leveraging partnerships
The core tenant of the community school approach is that the partnering entities combine resources. In many cases, successful community school efforts have been started with little to no new resources, but rather through partners re-deploying and re-allocating existing resources. This includes not just funding, but also time, personnel, and/or other assets. Through a coordinated system, a community school offers more effective programs and services than any one of its partners could offer on its own and eliminates duplicative efforts.

4. Set up clear structures for partnerships
Adopting a community school approach means that all partners must adopt a new way of doing business. Partners must commit to shared decision-making and put real resources on the table. The success of a community school effort is directly correlated with the strength of the infrastructure supporting its partnerships. While developing these relationships and systems takes time, it is a critical step in developing community schools. Discussions about filling service gaps, and determining which services should be offered, need to take place after each partner understands the purpose and role of the collaboration. In other words, decisions about how to work together are made before decisions about what to do. A full list of important characteristics of this governance infrastructure can be found on page 5 of the brief.

5. Invest in coordination of services
To ensure that a comprehensive and integrated set of services and programs is developed and functions well, the collaborative must make an investment in coordination. Without staff in charge of coordination, it is not possible to maximize the resources brought together by the partner agencies. While very few public funding streams are dedicated to such coordination, there are several federal, state, and local public funding streams that can be used for such costs, including Medi-Cal Administrative Activities (MAA), Title I, and general funds (see the Community Profiles in the brief for examples of funding streams most commonly used to pay for coordination and administration). Some successful community school efforts have pieced together cash and in-kind resources from each of the partners within a collaborative to cover the costs associated with coordination. To ensure adequate coordination is in place, community school efforts should prioritize obtaining policy and fiscal commitments from each partnering entity.

But you haven’t even mentioned LCFF or the new grant opportunity under SB 527.
Local Control is the perfect context in which to start making these kinds of systems and programmatic decisions and investments. However, we are not proposing that you use LCFF funds right off the bat. There are key funding streams that should be maximized and leveraged before LCFF funds are tapped. There is an exciting new grant opportunity for community schools under SB 527 that will be coming in late winter or early spring of 2017. But some of the most important work you can do in using a community school approach is to figure out how to make the best use of the funding you and your partners already have.

This financing brief provides evidence and ideas from successful, longstanding efforts that school districts, counties, cities, non-profit organizations, and other public entities can use to begin exploring how to form community school partnerships that support student success. Click here to read Community School Financing: Aligning Local Resources for Student Success, and learn from five different communities about how they financed their community school efforts in the midst of the recession.

New Community School Grant Opportunity

By Ed Honowitz, Education Policy Advisor, Office of Senator Carol Liu

Governor Jerry Brown signed the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund: Learning Communities for School Success program into law Friday. This program will fund model practices that improve academic success, strengthen families, and build healthier communities.

The Learning Communities for School Success program is focused on implementing research-based strategies to improve school climate and address the school-to-prison pipeline. The bill directs savings from the prison sentencing reform initiative prop 47 and additional one-time funds to ensure that schools and community partners coordinate strategies to support our neediest students and families.

The grant program will fund successful strategies, such as community schools, which align support services including health and mental health providers to remove barriers to learning and address the underlying causes of chronic absence and trauma. These strategies include supporting social-emotional learning and alternative discipline approaches which strengthen the capacity of students to focus on academic success. SB 527 (Liu) and the accompanying bill AB 1014 (Thurmond) are funded at $28 million in the current budget.

These research-based approaches to serving the “whole child” are supported in the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaces the failures of No Child Left Behind. ESSA requires states to develop measures that address both the academic and non-academic needs of students. SB 527 reflects the framework developed by both houses of the Legislature in conjunction with the Department of Education, Department of Justice, Department of Finance, and stakeholders. By authorizing grant funds for evidence-based, non-punitive programs and practices to keep our most vulnerable students in school, the program enhances the actions and services in school districts’ local control and accountability plans.

This targeted funding will support additional model programs that can help districts learn and implement national best practices to keep students in school and on a productive path. Implementing activities and strategies to improve attendance and reduce chronic absenteeism, and advance social-emotional learning, positive behavior interventions and supports, culturally responsive practices, and trauma-informed strategies, have shown results for our most vulnerable students.

The grant program will be administered by the Department of Education and moves our state further along the path of implementing community school strategies, including defining this approach in education code. Using schools as hubs, community school strategies foster intentional collaboration and alignment among schools; state, county, and city government; post-secondary education; community based organizations; non-profits; and business.

We continue to see the growing recognition that our schools and students succeed when we meet the broader needs of the whole child. There is a growing movement across the country that recognizes the effectiveness of combining rigorous relevant instruction with strategies that provide access to personalized support and services. This is the approach we need to keep our kids on the college and career track and out of the school-to-prison pipeline.