Schools have always served as centres of activity in neighbourhoods across B.C. Since the 1970s, dozens of schools have been designated as Community Schools, and many continue to offer a range of community services. This approach is consistent with a growing body of research showing that, when families are engaged in students’ learning and have the support of strong communities, student achievement improves.
Building on the achievements of Community Schools, the Province introduced the $10 million School Community Connections program in 2005, providing grants to "assist in transforming school facilities into vital, lively hubs for community activities and services."
Between 2006 and 2008, the Province contributed to the development of community hubs in various locations, including schools. Community hubs comprise a range of early childhood development, child care and family support programs in a single location, consistent with the recommendations of Strong, Safe and Supported (PDF, 2MB), a report that recognized all of government shares responsibility for the healthy development of children and youth.
In September 2008, the Province took another step forward, announcing a vision for Neighbourhood Learning Centres and setting out a two-part initiative.
- A capital component, providing extra funding to districts incorporating NLC approaches into plans for new schools or major renovations.
- All other schools are expected to use their existing space to accommodate a wider range of services for students, families and the community to maximize the public benefits of school facilities.
Ultimately, NLCs will help to enhance students’ academic achievement and overall wellbeing by engaging parents and the wider community more directly in the life of every school. The development of NLCs will also leave a legacy of closer, more connected communities – as well as proven tools and resources for school-community engagement.