In 2020, Scholarship Prep Orange County in Santa Ana was selected as one of 20 schools or districts in the state to receive the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funded California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) grant. As the only charter school fund recipient, we were thrilled to be selected to participate in a California Department of Education (CDE) case study to share how we have stewarded these funds.
The on-campus case study was one of only eight completed by WestEd on behalf of CDE and explored Scholarship Prep’s implementation of CCSPP funding into programs and services that benefit historically underserved students. WestEd representatives held focus groups throughout the visit with Scholarship Prep site leadership, student support staff, teachers, families, community partners, and behavior health providers.
Among the findings highlighted in the case study, WestEd pointed out four areas where our school has utilized funds to bolster our student support services and programs. These areas include our classroom resource center, community partnerships, trauma-informed training practices, and daily social-emotional learning (SEL).
Well-Stocked Classroom Resource Centers
Our firm commitment to building trust with families and providing consistent support in a judgment-free manner was evident when the WestEd team was introduced to our Classroom Resource Centers. CCSSP ESSER funds are used to fill our classroom carts with snacks, hygiene supplies, and other materials, allowing students to take what they need without asking.
“SPSA has a strong focus on building trust with families and maintaining consistent support in a judgment-free way” – WestEd Case Study Finding
Emboldened Community Partnerships
In addition, CCSPP funds are used to hire a case manager dedicated to the thirty highest-need students and their families, freeing up time and resources for our Coordinator of Student Services to serve more students.
“I’ve never seen a school like this, where the entire mission is to support the students, not just academically but behaviorally, socially, and emotionally.”– Director of Behavioral Health at Project Hope Alliance
At Scholarship Prep, all staff members undergo regular trauma-informed training. These trainings are provided during the onboarding process and take place monthly, with specific topics tailored for classified and certified staff. The subjects covered include adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), self-management, and the neuroscience of trauma. WestEd reports that SP teachers, school leaders, and community partners have all observed that trauma-informed practices have become a fundamental part of daily routines at SPOC.
“The trauma professional development helped me reshape my thinking [. . .] I’ve tried to apply it to every part of my teaching. It helps to reframe our thoughts and look at things as an opportunity, not just a struggle.”– Scholarship Prep Teacher
Daily Social-Emotional Learning
The case study also highlighted SP’s daily integration of SEL programs and weekly universal screener practices into the school day, allowing students to communicate their emotions and needs effectively. Teachers shared first-hand accounts of the effectiveness of SP’s cultural norm of sharing challenges and efficacious strategies used collaboratively among staff related to SEL and the value of maintaining consistency in providing SEL supports.
“It’s hard to be willing to give up instructional time for academics, [. . .] But once you can, let that go and set aside the time for SEL because these kids need it. If their needs aren’t met, and they can’t communicate, you’re not going to be reaching them academically anyway.”– Scholarship Prep Orange County Teacher
In all, the CCSPP grant has significantly impacted our goals of integrated support services, trusting and collaborative family relationships, and sustainability. As students’ lives are transformed and support services improve the well-being of families, we are empowered to Create Community Change!