Community Schools and the Role of University-School-Community Collaboration

  • Kathleen Teresa Provinzano Drexel University
  • Ryan Riley Communities in Schools Pennsylvania
  • Bruce Levine Drexel University
  • Allen Grant Drexel University
Keywords: community partnerships; integrated student supports; school-community transformation


Public school districts are locally controlled and funded through local property taxes. Funding schools this way perpetuates structural inequities in poorer school districts and as a result, students living in poverty have minimal access to critical resources that support student learning. Community schools are resurfacing in many of these urban spaces as a mechanism for addressing the systemic and structural inequities plaguing students, schools, and communities. Advocates posit that increasing student achievement requires addressing the needs of the whole child; conceptualizing schooling through this lens offers an expanded vision of what public education needs to be for many of today’s children. This paper aims to improve our overall understanding of community schools and highlights specific actions taken by community organizations and higher education institutions to create meaningful partnerships with public schools operating as community schools. The authors posit that collaborative and organically developed, grassroots relationships have the potential to alter the traditional dynamic between internal public school employees and external stakeholders, leading to school, student, and community transformation.

Author Biographies

Kathleen Teresa Provinzano, Drexel University

Assistant Professor

Ryan Riley, Communities in Schools Pennsylvania

President and State Director

Bruce Levine, Drexel University

Associate Clinical Professor

Allen Grant, Drexel University

Associate Clinical Professor


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