The Primary School (TPS) is a new non-profit organization dedicated to dramatically improving health and educational outcomes for children. Fueled by the belief that the current model of school is too limited to close the achievement gap for our nation’s most at risk children, TPS is designing a new model of primary education and primary care which braids together education, health, and family support services starting at birth. We pair high expectations and joy, in a powerful community of supports to care for the whole child. With this innovative new model, we aim to expand the traditional definition of “school” in order to prepare all children to succeed in college, career, and life.
The Primary School approach has three defining characteristics:
Provide integrated supports: We partner with existing health care organizations to address the needs of the whole child. Educators, parent coaches and healthcare professionals come together as a team to provide integrated academic and health (physical, mental, and socio-emotional) supports to students and families.
Start early: We admit students at or before birth, and provide parent-driven, early childhood supports alongside medical care during the critical years of child development, ensuring that students are ready for school at age 3. Our infant-toddler program consists of regular parent-child playgroups to support the goals of attachment, language development and resilience.
Offer two-generation supports: We put families at the center of this work and focus on building parent capacity to support the health and education of their children. Families receive support, including group-based coaching, individual supports, and connection to other social services, to help them better support their children and become healthier themselves.
We opened our first site in East Palo Alto in 2016 and currently serve 250 children (ages 0 to 5) and their families. TPS was seeded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a major national philanthropy.
TPS is committed to designing a model that is replicable in other communities and redefines what is possible for our highest need children and families. We are investing in design, research, evaluation, and dissemination that will allow us to replicate our model and transfer our learnings to others.