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Mayor Hogsett, Marian University Announce $7.5M Initiative to Support Far Eastside Schools

City Connects will provide wraparound support to nearly 3,700 students at 12 schools

Mayor Joe Hogsett, in partnership with Marian University’s Center for Vibrant Schools and President Daniel J. Elsener, announced the launch of City Connects in Marion County, an initiative that will invest $7.5 million in 12 public schools on the city’s Far Eastside over the next three years.

City Connects uses an evidence-based strategy to ensure students’ non-academic needs are met. By building a network of support for students and their families, City Connects helps address the out-of-school factors that limit learning and can be barriers to success. The program will be funded by federal American Rescue Plan dollars unanimously appropriated by the City-County Council in September. 

“Indianapolis students can face challenges inside and outside the classroom,” said Mayor Hogsett. “I applaud Marian University, IPS, MSD of Warren Township, and charter school leaders for partnering with us to implement the City Connects program in Indianapolis. City Connects has a proven track record of success, and thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan, we are able to realize a vision in which opportunities are limitless, no matter the out-of-school challenges students face.”

The City Connects Technical Assistance Center at Marian University’s Center for Vibrant Schools will administrator the program starting early next year, which will allow schools to hire Site Coordinators and program managers to provide comprehensive wraparound services to students. The ARP funds will cover administrative costs to manage and implement the program in each school through 2024 and allow for the creation of an online service hub for each neighborhood. Additionally, Site Coordinators will have access to a proprietary database maintained by Boston College to track and measure services being delivered, their effectiveness, and overall impact.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” said Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener. “Every school, every teacher, and every counselor require additional support to fully meet the needs of their students — it is not an undertaking intended to be done alone. Through the City Connects program at Marian University, our Site Coordinators provide one-on-one support and additional resources for educators to ensure the needs of each student are being addressed through a personalized plan.” 

The program will serve students in Indianapolis Public Schools, public charter schools, and MSD of Warren Township. Each student at a participating school will receive an individualized service plan to meet their non-academic needs, such as mental health services and food assistance, as well as access to extracurricular programming and other learning opportunities. Site Coordinators will work with existing school staff to identify the strengths and needs of each student so they can be connected with school- and community-based resources.

“Those of us who are in education witness firsthand how societal issues — everything from homelessness, poverty, food insecurity to mental health issues — affect students daily. Inside classrooms, locally and throughout the country, it shows up in students who may struggle to focus or concentrate, who may have poor academic performance, or who may struggle to have confidence and belief in the future that’s ahead of them,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson. “Through City Connects, I am excited to be able to have the additional support for students to receive the resources they need so that the impact of those ‘out-of-school’ factors is minimized. I am encouraged by the variety of partnerships focused on meeting the needs of our students and the funding that comes along with those partnerships and programs. When we say ‘Stronger Together,’ this is a prime example of what we mean. It really does take a community to ensure that our students receive not just a great education but also the additional supports they need to excel in life.”

The following schools on the Far Eastside will participate:

  • Andrew J. Brown Academy (Public Charter School)
  • Sankofa School of Success at Arlington Woods School 99 (IPS Innovation Network School)
  • Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105 (Indianapolis Public Schools)
  • Circle City Prep (Public Charter School)
  • George S. Buck School 94 (Indianapolis Public Schools)
  • James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Middle School (Public Charter School)
  • James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership High School (Public Charter School)
  • Phalen Leadership Academy at Francis Scott Key School 103 (IPS Innovation Network School)
  • Phalen Leadership Academy at George H. Fisher School 93 (IPS Innovation Network School)
  • Promise Prep (Public Charter School)
  • Rooted School Indianapolis (Public Charter School)
  • MSD of Warren Township (School to be determined)

City Connects has a successful 20-year, evidence-based track record in Boston, its founding city. The Boston College Center for Optimized Student Support reports that the program has increased student attendance rates, decreased dropout rates, improved state test scores, and increased the likelihood of attending college. 

Today’s announcement is part of Mayor Hogsett’s three-year comprehensive fiscal package, which includes $150 million in violence reduction funding from the American Rescue Plan allocation unanimously approved by the City-County Council. The package includes funding for 100 new IMPD officers, $9 million towards modern policing technology, $15 million per year for grassroots violence prevention organizations, 50 Peacemakers, and $30 million towards mental health resources.