Chancellor Fariña Announces Creation of New Office of Community Schools

  • Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 Updated: Mon Dec 09, 2019

Nonprofit and Public Sector Leader Christopher Caruso Will Lead Efforts to Expand Transformative Community Schools Model in New York City

NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the creation of a new Office of Community Schools. The new office reflects New York City’s commitment and investment in the transformative community schools model – a pillar of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s education agenda that supports the social, emotional, physical, and academic needs of students. Christopher Caruso will lead the office’s efforts to establish 128 community schools across all five boroughs as its Executive Director.
Community Schools offer a coordinated approach to improving students’ academic performance through strong partnerships among principals, parents, teachers and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).  Schools enter into a partnership with a local CBO to offer a “whole child, whole community” approach, looking holistically at students, families and communities to ascertain their most pressing needs and decide which services will best address those needs.
The new Office of Community Schools will centralize resources and expertise to support a network of 128 community schools across all five boroughs. Specifically, Caruso and his staff will coordinate with schools and community partners to develop tailored supports to improve each school, including: social services; counseling and mental health supports; and expanded learning opportunities. Ninety-four of the community schools have been established under the School Renewal Program, aimed at turning around New York City’s struggling schools. The new Office of Community Schools will work within the Division of School Support under the guidance of Senior Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson.
“Community schools are key to meeting the whole needs of every child – both during and outside the school day – and our creation of the new Office of Community Schools underscores our commitment to this transformative model,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Chris’s leadership will be critical for bringing schools and communities together to improve learning in the classroom, and I am thrilled that he will be leading this critical work.”
“I have spent my career working at the intersection of schools and communities, and I strongly believe in the power of partnerships to increase educational opportunities for our students.  I am humbled by the opportunity to join the Department of Education to lead this groundbreaking expansion of community schools,” said Christopher Caruso, Executive Director of the Office of Community Schools. “I look forward to working with the Chancellor, principals and community leaders across the City to help our schools enhance the quality of learning, and to support stronger families and healthier communities.”
“Chris Caruso has years of experience developing successful community-based organizations and community school programs,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery. “Chris knows the services and supports that students and families need to succeed, as well as how to achieve strong academic gains. Having seen Chris’s work first-hand, I’m excited to welcome him and I know he will make a difference for thousands of children across the city.”
“Chris started his career 16 years ago as a program director at a TASC site and it’s been a joy watching him develop into an effective and inspiring leader,” said Lucy Friedman, president of TASC (The After-School Corporation). “It’s exciting to have a mayor and chancellor whose goals are so aligned with our own and who understand how important it is to close the opportunity gap.”
Chris Caruso joins the Department of Education from TASC, where he oversaw the organization’s expanded learning portfolio since 2011 as Senior Vice President of ExpandED Schools. At TASC, he supported a network of 40 schools in three cities – including New York City – as they helped to close the opportunity gap by expanding the school day, partnering with community organizations, and enhancing the quality of learning. From 2005 to 2010, Caruso served as Assistant Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD). He helped launch the City’s Out of School Time (OST) initiative, collaborating across agencies and with 175 community-based organizations to create the country’s largest municipal afterschool system serving 80,000 young people each day.
Prior to his time as Assistant Commissioner, Caruso was DYCD’s budget director. He has also been a budget supervisor for the City’s Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services, and started his career as a program director for The Children’s Aid Society Community School at P.S. 8 in Washington Heights. In addition to his work in the public and nonprofit sectors, Caruso is the founding Board Chair of Friends of WHEELS, an organization supporting a high-performing Washington Heights public high school. Caruso also served on District 27’s Community Education Council in Queens from 2009-2011 and was selected to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship in 2010.
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