Credit: William Wright Photography

Background and Challenges

Children from low-income families face many barriers to success in school, from limited early reading opportunities to unsafe neighborhoods to eviction. Nearly one million of these children live in publicly supported housing. Along with housing stability, public housing agencies can provide place-based services to students and their families. They can also work with school systems to improve attendance, learning, and graduation rates, and to co-locate housing and schools. Yet across the country, partnerships between housing agencies and school systems are rare. Systematic experiments in cross-system coordination are just beginning.

The CBI Approach

To promote deeper understanding, and to catalyze the formation of more partnerships in large cities, the Council of Large Public Housing Agencies (CLPHA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation convened a series of national summits on Housing and Education. CBI was enlisted to design and facilitate the summits. The summits were designed to maximize opportunities for participants from housing agencies and school districts to learn from existing partnerships; to understand key legal, programmatic, and partnership-building issues; and to lay the groundwork for building successful partnerships in their own cities. CBI’s approach to the two-day summits included:

  • “Dating Game”-style discussions with successful partners
  • Expert presentations that highlighted good practices
  • Exchanges with executive and congressional policy makers
  • City and regional dialogues to nurture potential partnerships.


The summits have more than doubled the number of participating housing and education partners. They have also educated policymakers on supporting partnerships and have created ongoing communities of practice at the national and regional levels. Successful partners are now working with children and families to broaden and deepen their impact, and to share what they learn with others. Across the country, more families are benefiting from effective integration of housing and educational support.