When the executive director of the C.B. Community Schools, Robbin Smart, found out that the school would receive a monetary award from GSK, she was elated.
“This is an amazing honor for our school,” Smart said. “The award will help us continue to engage in all the important work that we do with the students that we serve.”
C.B. Community School is among a group of 20 nonprofit organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina that was celebrated during GSK’s 25th annual IMPACT awards.
All award winners received $50,000, a $10,000 increase from previous years. To date, GSK has awarded over $13 million in unrestricted funding to local nonprofits across two regions that are home to its U.S. corporate hubs.
Beat the Streets Wrestling Program Philadelphia; Career Wardrobe; Education Law Center; Healthy NewsWorks; Neighborhood Bike Works; Neighborhood Gardens Trust; Orion Communities Inc.; Uplift Center for Grieving Children; and Women’s Community Revitalization Project were also honored from the Greater Philadelphia region.
“This was the first time we had a virtual ceremony,” said GSK Community Partnerships manager Linda Higginbotham.
“The ceremony highlighted the winners of the Greater Philadelphia area and from North Carolina,” she added. “We were really excited to highlight so many great organizations this year.”
The winners were selected by a panel of local and national community leaders through a competitive process.
The nonprofits needed to demonstrate innovative, measured and sustainable approaches to address at least one of six community health factors including community safety, education, employment and income, family and social support, housing and shelter, and nutrition and physical activity.
Higginbotham said the C.B. Community School was chosen because they have students from an underserved population.
“Their mission was innovative and they had good collaborative partnerships,” Higginbotham said.
“They measured their outcomes of what they did through their business and they’re also transformative,” she added. “They really hit all the points when it comes to the criteria for an Impact Award.”
Launched in 2015, C.B. Community School is a small, private, competency-based high school for youth between the ages of 14-21 that are in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
Every student receives a fully paid scholarship to attend the Roxborough school.
Nearly 60% of C.B. students spend time in residential placements. About 40% of students have become entangled in the juvenile justice system.
The school has a graduation rate of 90%, which surpasses the 65% national rate for youth in foster care. One hundred percent of its graduates connect to post-secondary opportunities.
“Our students have experienced a lot of trauma in their lives and they come with educational experiences that have been disjointed as they have been to five to seven different schools before coming to us,” Smart said.
“We’re giving students an opportunity to not just have a traditional education, but we’re project- and competency-based so students can move through our program at different rates,” she added.
C.B. students are exposed to postsecondary options early and often through an annual postsecondary fair organized at the school, trips to colleges, trade schools and postsecondary employment opportunities.
The school also has a full social and emotional learning team available 24 hours a day for students.
“We have a whole department for social emotional learning at C.B.,” Smart said. “We have a social worker, an on-site therapist, a special education department and an on-site clinic so students can get their health needs met at the school.
“We talk to students about their individual goals,” she said. “If they need someone to go to court with them we go. We have so many things in place.
“We look at our individual students and work with them to build collective empathy,” she added. “We help our students to identify what positive choices are and help them meet them.”
Carlette Brown is a graduate of the C.B. Community Schools. Brown, 21, has been in the foster care system since she was 10 years old.
“I was at C.B. for a few years,” Brown said. “When I first came to the school, I was not in a good headspace. After being at the school for a while, I realized that was the best school for me.
“The teachers and staff are so supportive,” she added. “Even after I graduated from the school, I’ve stayed in contact with several people there.”
Brown currently works at a Philadelphia hospital and is enrolled in a beauty school. She wants to be a makeup artist.
She said going to the C.B. Community School changed her life.
“I really don’t know where I would be if I didn’t go to the C.B.,” Brown said. “I’m a completely different person now from when I first entered the school.
“That school really changed my life,” she added. “I’m so happy that they’re getting the recognition that they deserve with this award because it really is a great school.”