Comer SDP a Key Component of Revitalization Effort in Pittsburgh
The previous evening Dr. Comer spoke with a group of the local funders and civic leaders who are investing in the revitalization of Homewood, an area of Pittsburgh that has been especially hard hit by the decline of the steel industry.
Homewood Children's Village, launched in 2008, is a child-centered, comprehensive community initiative whose mission is “to improve the lives of Homewood’s children and to reweave the fabric of the community in which they live.” While inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone, HCV operates under a different organizational paradigm. HCV convenes existing service providers, coordinates their services around individual children and families, and builds their capacity to deliver an integrated continuum of high quality, evidence-based services and programs. HCV has partnered with the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work to design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based interventions to fill service gaps in Homewood.
"The Homewood Children's Village is humbled by our burgeoning partnership with Dr. James Comer and the implementation of the Yale School Development Program at the schools located in Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood," said Derrick Lopez,. "For decades, educators have searched for the proverbial magic bullet for educating children in public schools. For four decades the work of Dr. Comer and his colleagues at the Yale Child Study Center have empirically shown that there is no such magic bullet, but rather the key is to focus upon the development of the whole child in his/her many contexts. As Dr. Comer put it at our Breakfast Roundtable: "Our children are not flawed or incapable. They are 'underdeveloped' along key developmental pathways and thereby 'unavailable' to learn." The Homewood Children's Village has been searching for a partner who ‘gets it' and understands that education is enhanced by strong and healthy children who are fully developed. Dr. Comer is just that partner, and we look forward to working with him and his team to make Homewood's schools, 'Comer Schools.'"
"I am very excited about the Homewood project possibility," said Dr. Comer. "More than 40 years ago I argued that focusing on restoring community vitality was as important, and maybe more important, than the almost exclusive focus on racial integration during that period and that is what they are doing in Homewood. Also, there may be a possibility of working with Homewood leadership and neuroscientists at Yale to use a program that speeds up cognitive development for children who have not received adequate support for development. This was the aim of our work from the beginning, and now there is a possibility that it can be aided by technology. We hope to explore this possibility in this project. This is very hopeful and exciting. "
Derrick Lopez and his team from Homewood Children’s Village are planning to visit New Haven to meet with Dr. Comer and the SDP faculty and to visit Comer schools in New Haven to see the model in operation.