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New IUPUI Center to Support Regional University-Community School Partnerships


October 5, 2011

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  • Mansi Patel
    (317) 278-2662

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The University of Pennsylvania Netter Center for Community Partnerships has awarded funding to the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning to create a regional Center for University-Assisted Community Schools as part of Penn’s national replication project.

In partnership with community and business partners, university-assisted community schools draw upon higher education to assist local schools as service support centers for youth, their families and community members. The strategy, being used internationally as an education reform measure, recognizes public schools as neighborhood “hubs” where partnership services develop collaborative solutions to local learning and youth development barriers.

The new IUPUI-based center will assist universities and community schools in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois with implementation of university-assisted community schools strategies.

“The selection committee chose IUPUI given its long history of helping to develop community schools, the depth of IUPUI's commitment to civic engagement and academically based community service, its exceptional partnership with the local community, and its significant record of providing training and technical assistance,” said Joann Weeks, associate director of the Netter Center.

IUPUI’s Center for Service and Learning has participated in activities with near-Westside public schools during the past decade. Its work with Indianapolis Public Schools’ George Washington Community High School (GWCHS), 2215 W. Washington St., has gained national attention. GWCHS earned the inaugural National Community School Award in 2006 from the Coalition for Community Schools, a program of the Washington, DC.-based Institute for Educational Leadership.

Professor Robert Bringle, executive director of the Center for Service and Learning, said, “The new regional center will build on over 15 years of work by IUPUI faculty, staff and students who have partnered with the neighborhoods of west Indianapolis to enhance the quality of educational opportunities. It is exciting that that partnership provides a basis for George Washington Community High School to be a model for other communities and campuses in the Midwest.”

Other IUPUI units also assist community schools. The U.S. Department of Education in 2010 awarded the IUPUI Community Learning Network $2.5 million in Full-Service Community Schools funding for its work with three elementary schools in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhoods of the Near Eastside. That partnership serves more than 5,150 youth, their families, and community members.

The new Center for University-Assisted Community Schools will draw upon expertise mainly from three collaborating facilitators: Jim Grim of the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, lead partner for the GWCHS community schools initiative; Monica Medina of the IUPUI Center for Urban and Multicultural Education and the IU School of Education; and Starla Officer of the Office of Neighborhood Partnerships in the Center for Service and Learning.

As one of its first activities, the new center and the Indiana Partnerships Center on Nov. 7, 2011, will co-host a Family/School/Community Engagement Forum for 100 targeted policymakers and leaders in public education. Notable leaders from across the state and Washington, D.C. are slated to participate. The event is the first of four learning opportunities the Center for University-Assisted Community Schools will host over the next year.