School-Community Connections
Addressing Race, Segregation, and Concentrated Poverty

  Research Tells Us...

The Supreme Court’s 1954 finding that African-American students were disadvantaged by attending separate schools, even if they are purportedly “equal,” still holds. Indeed, in today’s increasingly diverse world, it is even more important for all children to be exposed to a range of cultures, languages, and opinions so that they are equipped to navigate and thrive in their global environment.


Yet, sixty-plus years after Brown v. Board of Education, several decades after we put a stop to school desegregation policies, our schools are more segregated than ever, with those in the most diverse states, like New York and California, particularly so. But rather than designing education and other policies to counter this trend, most federal, state, and local policies accept and even exacerbate it.

We Need a Broader, Bolder Approach

A Broader, Bolder Approach promotes the racial and economic integration of schools and of the neighborhoods those schools serve. To create a truly level playing field, educators should focus on policies that reduce racial and economic isolation in classrooms and schools without losing sight of the larger context in which that isolation exists.
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BBA blogs on reducing racial and socioeconomic segregation

These BBA blog posts offer insights into ensuring that community voices inform school improvement efforts, and strategies to reduce racial and socioeconomic segregation: In Blowing our Diversity Advantage, Elaine Weiss and Century Foundation Senior Fellow …


School discipline disparities: Civil Rights Project at UCLA

The  Office of Civil Rights also documents another race-based disparity that impedes the school success of children of color: harsh disciplinary policies that rely on out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. The Civil Rights Project at …


Civil Rights Data Collection

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Civil Rights Data Collection provides key information on education and civil rights issues in public schools including enrollment, access to educational programs/services, and academic proficiency results, …

Leading civil rights organizations advancing educational equity

Leading civil rights organizations are advancing more equitable visions for education. The National Urban League’s Equity and Excellence Project, relaunched in 2016, seeks to strengthen advocacy, education reform and engagement at the national, state and …

Restorative justice: ending the school-to-prison pipeline

The Schott Foundation has been a leader in addressing so-called zero-tolerance policies and the school-to-prison pipeline, issuing numerous reports and videos on alternatives such as restorative justice that foster strong, supportive school communities. See, for …

The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC): challenging systemic pushout

The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) challenges the systemic problem of pushout in US schools and provides publications, tools, data and other resources to advance efforts to create just and fair school climates. 2015 DSC …

An In-Depth Look at a Broader, Bolder Approach to Addressing Race, Segregation, and Concentrated Poverty

As rates of child and family poverty grew during and in the aftermath of the Great Recession, poverty also became more concentrated in certain cities and neighborhoods. This exacerbated the already difficult circumstances of children of color, who have long been disproportionately clustered in our country’s least resourced, most chaotic, and most isolated communities. Children growing up in these areas face particular barriers: widespread joblessness, crime, violence, and dysfunction combine with scant public and private resources to isolate families and make the climb out of poverty especially difficult. Indeed, research documents the added obstacles to school success posed by these circumstances. Yet current policies accept racial segregation and economic and social isolation as unavoidable; some reformers even assert that schools and children can thrive in the face of such devastation through within-school changes alone.

Policy solution: A Broader, Bolder Approach advances strategies that, though among the most effective means of increasing the achievement of low-income minority students, are largely ignored. BBA promotes the racial and economic integration of schools and of the neighborhoods those schools serve. Creating a truly level playing field requires addressing segregation at both the school and community levels, but because the latter may be more politically and logistically challenging, educators should focus on policies that reduce racial and economic isolation in classrooms and schools without losing sight of the larger context in which that isolation exists.

Additional Resources

Compounding problems of concentrated poverty and racial and socioeconomic isolation

Concentrated poverty and racial and socioeconomic isolation compound problems associated with student and family poverty and pose further barriers to student success. Brookings Institute reports - The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty: Metropolitan Trends in the …

BBA Policy Areas

Out-of-School Experiences

Establishing an even educational playing field so that all children enter kindergarten prepared to learn and thrive requires supports for children, their parents, and their caregivers from birth. And ensuring equal opportunities to learn requires support for children’s physical and mental health. A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education advances enriching experiences with nurturing, knowledgeable adults throughout the day and all year, in order to promote children’s strong cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development.


Early Childhood Education

Afterschool and Summer Activities

Physical and Mental Health


In-School Experiences

Schools and educators serving students with higher needs need the resources to do so effectively. A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education advances policies that establish strong standards and curriculum in all schools and ensure sufficient funding for high-needs schools to reach them. BBA promotes supports-based accountability systems focused on improving instruction and strategies to desegregate schools and deconcentrate poverty within them, so that educators and students have a strong context in which to teach and learn.


Equitable Funding

Holistic, Supports-Based Accountability Systems

Teacher and Principal Quality

Accountability for Charter Schools

School-Community Connections

Effective, sustainable school improvement efforts merge research-based evidence of effective ways to mitigate the impacts of poverty with community input regarding the district’s unique assets and needs. A Broader, Bolder Approach highlights the need for key community voices – including educators, parents, students, and faith and business leaders – to be at the center of developing and implementing education reforms.


Addressing Race, Segregation, and Concentrated Poverty

Using Community Input to Inform School Improvement