A Blueprint for Change in Central Brooklyn

January 18, 2013


Encompassing the eastern half of Bedford-Stuyvesant and sections of Crown Heights and Brownsville, Community School District 16 is repeatedly among the worst performing school districts in New York City.

In 2010-11, CSD16 had a 44% high school graduation rate. College readiness rates varied between 0% and 5%.

But now – through a special initiative we created with the Black Male Donor Collaborative and the Brooklyn Movement Center – there’s a blueprint for change in CSD16, and it starts with school collaboration, closing the disparity gap in after-school services, and engaging parents as key stakeholders.

The recommendations are detailed in Raising the Stakes: Investing in a Community School Model to Lift Student Achievement in Community School District 16, a new report released earlier this week, which aims to attract foundations and education funders to inject new targeted financial support into the Central Brooklyn district.  

View & Download the Report

A comparatively small district—less than 10,000 students attend 26 schools—it serves a community dominated by poverty: 80% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, many of whom live in the 11 area public housing developments.

According to recent findings from the Schott Foundation (the parent group of the Black Male Donor Collaborative), in New York City public schools, a student’s educational outcomes and opportunity to learn are statistically more determined by where he or she lives than their abilities. CSD16 came in with a zero rating on their “Opportunity to Learn” index, an examination of 500 NYC middle schools across the city’s 32 Community School Districts.

Yet, CSD16 has uncommon strengths. The historically rich neighborhood is home to dozens of dynamic nonprofit institutions and a civically engaged working and middle class.

It’s these strengths, married with the determination that poverty not be the sole determinant in the success of a child’s education, which led us to invest in researching and designing a turnaround plan.

“For too long, CSD16’s schools and families have been unsupported, lacking the resources of comparable districts while struggling with widespread economic challenges.”
- Brooklyn Community Foundation President Marilyn Gelber

“Year after year, the statistics have shown that the current education model does not work for this otherwise resilient, highly engaged community," she adds. "CSD16 needs to build its own community, and become stronger through new relationships and more empowered stakeholders.”  

Creating a Community School Model

Key Recommendations in the Report:

  • Invest in a multi-year demonstration project in CSD16 focused on supporting collaboration and a K-12 pipeline

  • Identify a high quality group of after-school and out-of-school-time providers who will work closely together to offer a range of affordable programs

  • Create an easily-accessed database of after-school and out-of-school-time providers with qualitative assessments for parents and educators

  • Train parents in ways that will help them become more engaged in schools and after-school/out-of-school-time programs

Read the complete report findings, recommendations, and research methods here.

While foundations like ours alone cannot change the entire course of success, we can make smart, focused investments where we know they will have the greatest impact. This report is a blueprint for how to begin that work.  

 Support the future of Brooklyn’s School District 16 with a gift to the Foundation’s
Education & Youth Achievement Fund.


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MLK Day of Service
Make MLK Day a day on, instead of a day off. Join NYC Service in Red Hook and Coney Island on Monday, January 21st from 9AM - 1PM. Details and Registration here. Find other ways to service in Brooklyn at our volunteer website, DoGoodRightHere.org.

WNYC's Annual MLK Celebration
We are proud to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Brooklyn with WNYC's Brian Lehrer and journalist Farai Chidaya on Sunday, January 20th at the Brooklyn Museum. Please join us for an afternoon of discussion and staged readings inspired by A. Peter Bailey’s play, “Malcolm, Martin and Medgar,” an imagined reunion of the slain civil rights icons. 3PM - 5PM. Details and Registration (required).