In Ashtabula, our Community Learning Center effort began five years ago when Ashtabula Area City School District came together with Ashtabula County Community Action and other community partners committed to improving academic achievement, increasing enrollment, and stimulating greater family engagement in our district. A staggering 99.1% of children in our school district are classified as economically disadvantaged, and many families are struggling with housing, food insecurity, utility disconnection, transportation, and addiction.
We understood that unless we worked together to address these issues, our academic achievement would continue to suffer. Together we opened the Dragon Empowerment Center (DEC), our first Community Learning Center in the district. As a recreational, cultural, health, and social hub, the DEC provides medical, dental and vision care, distributes food and clothing, and provides tutoring services. The DEC is both a place, and a coordinated set of relationships between the school district and community partners. It acts as a guide for our vision to truly transform our school system, and improve the lives of everyone in our community.