Lua Prado, Contributing Photographer

On Monday, the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited New Haven to highlight the $2.5 million federal grant for Fair Haven schools.  

Cardona and federal and local elected officials spoke at Fair Haven School. The grant was awarded to the Clifford Beers Community Care Center in November. Over the next five years, it will be used to implement a “Full-Service Community Schools” model in two New Haven schools — Fair Haven School and Family Academy of Multilingual Exploration, which are located in the same neighborhood. 

“This grant builds on work that’s already on the way,” Cardona said. “You are building on strong foundations that will continue to transform the system. And systems should be responsive to the community’s needs, not the other way around. That’s why in the Biden administration, we’re proud of pushing to expand full-service community schools to levels never seen before in our country.”

The program in the two schools will be led by the Clifford Beers Community Care Center in partnership with New Haven Public Schools, city departments and several local organizations, including Dwight Hall at Yale. 

The full-service community schools model aims to turn schools into community hubs and bring engagement from parents and local leaders.

“What the Community Schools model does is it creates a framework for doing the work,” Sarah Miller, director of strategy at Clifford Beers and Fair Haven Alder, told the News. “It’s not about any one thing in particular, but creating a more intentional strategy around coordination and collaboration in support of children and families among all of the different partners that are party to that work.” 

At the press conference, Miller said that the organization will not “reinvent anything” but will focus on what is working. She told the News that the grant will be used primarily for staffing. Each school will hire a full-time Community School coordinator who will lead the various programming supported by the grant. 

According to Miller’s press release, the programming will offer school spaces for the community after the school day, bring additional extracurricular activities during and after the school day, provide families with leadership development opportunities and enhance academic support for students.

“We know we don’t have all the answers in D.C.,” Cardona said. “We’re gonna get a community assessment because what worked 30 years ago may not work today. Let’s talk to the community because who knows students better than their parents.”

As of now, there are no further details on what exactly the program will look like. 

In the coming months, the partnering organizations will continue planning and will begin implementing the programming in August 2024 at Fair Haven School and in August 2025 at the Family Academy. 

“I’m really excited about the new projects, and I like how the adults are paying attention to the students and they’re showing that they care for us and they want … the best for us,” Nathalia Marcano, an eighth grader at Fair Haven School, told the News after the press conference. 

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and NHPS Superintendent Madeline Negrón also spoke at the event. 

Fair Haven School has over 700 students, and Family Academy of Multilingual Exploration has over 400 students enrolled. 

Yurii Stasiuk is a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered City Hall as a beat reporter. Originally from Kalush, Ukraine, he is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College majoring in History and Political Science.
Lua Prado covers education & youth services and immigration & international communities in New Haven and writes the Tuesday Newsletter. Originally from Sergipe, Brazil, she is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College, double majoring in Political Science and English.