Shakamak schools and Marian University receive $1.8 million federal grant to continue comprehensive City Connects student support

by News Release | Apr 19, 2023

MSD of Shakamak in Jasonville, Ind., and Marian University in Indianapolis have received a $1.8 million five-year Full-Service Community Schools grant to expand the comprehensive student support practice City Connects and provide professional development to teachers in MSD of Shakamak.

Through this grant, the Marian University Center for Vibrant Schools will establish the City Connects Midwest Rural Pilot program, continuing its partnership with MSD of Shakamak. The school district has been implementing City Connects since 2022 at the Shakamak Junior-Senior High School and will now expand City Connects to the Shakamak Elementary during the 2023-24 school year.

“I would like to thank Marian University and the Center for Vibrant Schools for all their help in securing this grant,” said MSD of Shakamak Superintendent Jeff Gambill. “The grant will be used to continue our City Connects programs and pay for teacher professional development. Through City Connects, students will be connected to resources within and outside of the school that address their educational challenges. This contributes to a better learning environment and fosters a positive school culture. By creating a partnership with our community, our students can flourish, which is the intent of the Community Schools Grant. We look forward to expanding our City Connects program and to continuing our partnership with Marian University.”

City Connects is a comprehensive student support practice established more than 20 years ago by Boston College that utilizes individual-student and whole-class reviews to identify a child’s unique strengths and challenges and provide appropriate resources and interventions.

City Connects Midwest Director Jillian Lain said because students spend two-thirds of their time outside the classroom, City Connects can help address disparities in academic achievement such as housing instability, food insecurity, and unequal access to health care and enrichment programs. In addition to implementing City Connects, the Center for Vibrant Schools will also provide Orton-Gillingham reading and math training to Shakamak Elementary School teachers.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a time-tested practice based on science of reading research that rains educators to help all students—especially those with learning disorders like dyslexia—in reading and math.

“The Shakamak community has been an incredible partner as we’ve implemented City Connects,” Lain said. “Expanding services to Shakamak Elementary will provide appropriate support and interventions that can address student challenges early before they reach crisis levels.”

 Read the full press release from the U.S. Department of Education here

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