Community Schools

Making schools a community focus

Community schools represent a place-based school improvement strategy that partners schools with community agencies, families, and local government to provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth, family and community development, and community engagement.

As an evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement, National Education Policy Center and Learning Policy Institute researchers identify four key features that we promote:

  •  Integrated student supports
  • Expanded learning time opportunities
  • Family and community engagement
  • Collaborative leadership practices

Community schools engage their neighborhoods, and organize and align community resources to foster student success.

They ensure children get a quality education in a safe, nurturing, youth-development-focused environment. And they provide support services for youth, their families, and neighbors after school.

In fact, community schools are the hub of their neighborhoods, providing  residents supports to succeed.

Better education starts with community engagement

While classroom-based reform is important, it cannot, on its own, solve  educational challenges our country faces.

For kids to succeed, reforms must be paired with family and community engagement, as well as genuine efforts to improve a school’s climate for learning.

That’s what community schools do.

In this strategy, community services that students and their families may need are available through the school. The services can include:

  • Mental, dental, and basic health care
  • Extended-day learning activities
  • Tutoring and mentoring
  • College and career prep
  • Preschool learning
  • Adult education
  • Parent engagement programs

They bring community partners together to ensure students and families get the supports they need to help their children with learning, graduate from high school, and enter the world prepared for college and careers.

Community schools bring community partners together to ensure students and families get the supports they need.

Community schools in action

In 2010, we launched the Martindale-Brightwood Alliance for Success (MBAES), which brought three Indianapolis Public Schools into the community schools model.

We collaborate with 40 community partners to maximize the educational opportunities available to students and their families in IPS 51 and KIPP Academies.

Families have a range of services available and new programs are developed each semester.

Explore MBAES

Partners in the community school movement

IUPUI's program is one of four satellite, replication sites of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. The work draws upon decades of campus/community schools engagement on the Indianapolis Near-Westside and Near-Eastside, including three U.S. Department of Education Full-Service Community Schools projects since 2008.

Since 2012, IUPUI has collaborated with area schools in developing community councils, and also facilitates the Indiana Community Schools Network of stakeholders statewide in sharing best practices, advocating for community schools, and promoting related policy interests.

We also help schools:

  • Implement Community Councils
  • Create agendas that support school community goals
  • Review relevant data
  • Identify student and family needs
  • Secure access to support within their neighborhoods to address identified needs

Let us help you get started

We offer an array of services to help schools, neighborhoods, institutions of higher education, and other key stakeholders implement community school strategies.

We can help you by offering:

  • Customized workshops and training
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Project evaluation
  • Connections to health, human services, and workforce readiness opportunities
  • Asset/needs assessment

To find out more, contact Jim Grim, Director of University/Community School Partnerships, at jagrim@iupui.edu.