Strengthening Partnerships between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (2021-2022)


The Bull City Community Schools Partnership is a grassroots effort to support Durham Public Schools in addressing the challenges surrounding equitable school experiences and outcomes. The group envisions community schools as bringing together academics, health and social services, youth development and community engagement under one roof. Local universities are central to this endeavor as part of the University-assisted Community Schools model. 

Project Description

This project team will study the benefits and limitations of a University-assisted Community Schools (UACS) model, focusing on ways that universities can better prepare their students for engagement with public schools.

Previous teams have done context-setting for understanding the history and current narrative around public education by researching other UACS programs, conducting assets and needs assessment and power maps of universities, and identifying key challenges in the university-community partnership. Data collected during the 2019-2020 school year revealed a need for more student training and preparation dealing specifically with equity, diversity and anti-racist education.

This year’s team will deepen the work by consolidating and integrating the datasets and reporting data to stakeholders. Team members will use data from conversations with teachers, administrators and other universities to identify current and best practices in preparing university students for engagement with public schools. With a focus on equity, diversity and anti-racism, team members will begin to narrow in on training content and methods to best achieve equitable partnerships with local schools. 

They will also attend national university site visits, continue university power maps and learn how to organize stakeholders on their campuses around preservice equity training and interinstitutional collaboration. Using all this, the team will lay the foundation to begin assembling a training curriculum for university engagement with Durham Public Schools.

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.

Anticipated Outputs

Analysis of UACS best practices; conceptualization of anti-racism training series; research findings presented through a symposium, traveling exhibit and/or other mechanisms; publications and presentations chronicling team processes, products and effectiveness

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will be comprised of 2 graduate students and 16 undergraduate students. Interested students will likely be from disciplines such as education, global health, public policy, sociology, psychology, history and cultural anthropology. However, students are not limited to these disciplines, and all interested students are encouraged to apply. 

Strong candidates are likely to have a basic level of statistical science knowledge, qualitative research skills and experience with community service, service-learning, inequality research, community advocacy and/or social science research. Prospective team members should have a passion for public schools, a desire to work on leadership skills and a willingness to develop new assessment and evaluation skills.

Team members can expect to develop skills in broad areas related to public schools, civic engagement, community-based research, service-learning and social scientific inquiry. Specific topic subteams will cultivate depth of practice in subject interviews, content analysis, literature review on strategic frameworks for social change and school transformation, ethics of community-based research and partnership and translation skills for publicly accessible presentation of research findings. 

For graduate students specifically, skills in organization and team management, mobilizing campus energy for community benefit and facilitation techniques will be developed through this project.

All students will have the opportunity to travel with the team to various community schools and University-assisted Community School sites around the country in order to do a cross-case analysis around best practices. Should COVID-19 prevent the team from traveling as planned, virtual site visits will be organized.


Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

  • Fall 2021: Review history and context of public schools and community schools; analyze and integrate data analysis conducted by Data+ team; survey and interview peer institutions regarding undergraduate preservice equity preparation
  • Spring 2021: Analyze peer institution interviews to consolidate best practices for undergraduate pre-service equity preparation models; conduct national university site visits; continue university power-maps to streamline university preparation; begin campus organizing projects on each campus 

Team Outputs

Visualizing Durham Public Schools Dashboard (Data+)


Visualizing Durham Public Schools (Data+)

See related teams, Strengthening Partnerships between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (2022-2023) and Strengthening Partnerships between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (2020-2021), and Data+ summer project, Visualizing Durham Public School Communities (2022).


Image courtesy of 2019-2020 project team

Image courtesy of 2019-2020 project team.

Team Leaders

  • Amy Anderson, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Laura Armstrong, Department of Social Work, North Carolina Central University
  • Mirlesna Azor, Director of Nursing Student Services at NCCU
  • Xavier Cason, Durham Public Schools Foundation
  • Yolanda Dunston, School of Education, North Carolina Central University
  • Jamie Eaton, North Carolina Central University
  • Alec Greenwald, Arts & Sciences
  • Lindsey Miller-Furiness, Duke Office of Civic Engagement
  • Quynh-Chi Vo, Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs
  • Maranatha Wall, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Charity Sneed Watkins, Department of Social Work, North Carolina Central University

/graduate Team Members

  • Grazina Bielousova, Religion-PHD
  • Kelly Jasiura, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Maya Arora
  • Destiny Baker, NCCU Student
  • Jasmine Benner, NCCU Student
  • Sabrena Carver-Tchagna, NCCU Student
  • Alex Chao, Computer Science (AB)
  • Alexis Clagon, NCCU Student
  • Jasmine Daniel, Psychology (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Hannah Galdes
  • Bliss Gordon, Economics (BS)
  • Andrew Greene
  • Amaya Jackson, NCCU Student, Psychology (AB), Biology (AB2)
  • Deonna Moore, NCCU Student
  • Melanie Moseley, NCCU Student
  • Micah Speed, NCCU Student
  • Ruby Wang
  • Kyran Williams-Roberts

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Bull City Community Schools Partnership
  • Community Schools Support Team
  • Durham Public Schools
  • Durham Public Schools Foundation
  • Durham Association of Educators
  • National Education Association