Strengthening Partnerships Between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (2022-2023)

Durham Public Schools (DPS) and its stakeholders address many challenges surrounding equitable school experiences and outcomes. In response, the Bull City Community Schools Partnership was formed as a grassroots effort to transform public schools. 

Community schools aim to serve as centers of the community, bringing together academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement under one roof. They ask stakeholders to leave silos and form coalitions, developing innovative curricula and teaching practices grounded in social justice and local leadership. In Durham, Duke and North Carolina Central — two local universities — are central to this endeavor as part of the university-assisted community schools strategy.

This project team investigated how universities could help schools address community needs in three key areas: data visualization, health and an anti-racist curriculum. Project members were divided into corresponding subteams:

  • The data visualization subteam worked on revising the existing data dashboard used by DPS schools to make it more accessible and efficient for users. 
  • The health subteam identified the top five health needs in Durham and studied how university-assisted community schools have historically addressed community health, to the end of applying similar solutions in Durham. 
  • The curriculum subteam reviewed the work of the previous project team and revised the existing curriculum based on feedback from community stakeholders. They also explored the use of a different platform for module delivery. 

In addition, project team members traveled to other university-assisted community schools across the country to learn about the diverse structures and experiences of these institutions. 


Fall 2022 – Spring 2023 

Team Outputs

University-Assisted Community Schools in Durham (2023 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Strengthening Partnerships Between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (poster by Alec Greenwald, Amy Anderson, Mirlesna Azor-Sterlin, Xavier Cason, Yolanda Dunston, Jamie Eaton, Brianna Spruill, Ashanti Sutton, Drew Greene, Emily McReynolds, Ifidon Ikharo, Kaylin Hernandez, Kennedy Lightfoot, Lauren Relaford, Lucy Colangelo, Marcus Roberts, Melanie Moseley, Rheyann Kirby, Staci Grimes, Michelle Qiou, Amaya Jackson, Alvaro Fernandez Da Ponte, Talia Hayes, Jasmine Benner, Fatoumata Bald and Hannah Galde, presented at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 19, 2023)

North Carolina Community Schools Coalition. Full-Service Community Schools Grant 

Community Schooling. Issue 3: Fall 2022. UCLA Center for Community Schooling.

Blue Miller, Drew Greene, Michelle Qiou, Sabrena Carver-Tchagna. "Ecosystems of Change: University-Assisted Community Schools Research in Durham, North Carolina." Podcast. 2022. Community Schooling 3.

Yolanda Dunston, Alec Greenwald. Building Systems for Participatory Research with Community Schools. Zoom webinar with the Community Schools Research Practice Network hosted by the Coalition for Community Schools and the Institute for Educational Leadership. November 30, 2022.

Charity Watkins, Xavier Cason, Alec Greenwald, Yolanda Dunston, Quynh-Chi Vo. Applying an Ecological Systems Framework: How an Historically Black University, a Predominately White Institution, and a Public School System Created a Collaborative Undergraduate Research Experience. 2022. Children & Schools.

Interactive online dashboard

This Team in the News

Duke Partners with NCCU, ECU to Assist Public Schools and the Communities They Serve

Duke Public School Collaboration Published in Journal

How Trinity Faculty and Students Are Sharing Resources in Support of Durham Public Schools

See related teams, Strengthening Partnerships Between Durham Schools & Local Universities (2023-2024) and Strengthening Partnerships between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (2021-2022), and Data+ summer project, Visualizing Durham Public School Communities (2022).


Image: Mural created by John Fleissner, photo courtesy of Yolanda Dunston

Public Education Mural

Team Leaders

  • Amy Anderson, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Mirlesna Azor, Director of Nursing Student Services at NCCU
  • Jasmine Benner, North Carolina Central University - Master's in Psychology Student
  • 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

/graduate Team Members

  • Michelle Qiou, Continuing Education

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Kaylin Hernandez, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Ashanti Sutton, NCCU Student
  • Brianna Spruill, NCCU Student
  • Marcus Roberts, Economics (AB)
  • Lauren Relaford, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Melanie Moseley, NCCU Student
  • Lauren McReynolds, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Kennedy Lightfoot, NCCU Student
  • Rheyann Kirby, NCCU Student
  • Ifidon Ikharo, NCCU Student
  • Fatoumata Balde, NCCU Student
  • Talia Hayes, NCCU Student
  • Staci Grimes, Sociology (AB)
  • Andrew Greene, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Alvaro Fernandez da Ponte, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Chloe Decker, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Lucy Colangelo, Public Policy Studies (AB)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Amaya Jackson, M.P.H. Student, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Durham Public Schools Foundation
  • Durham Public Schools
  • Durham Association of Educators
  • Bull City Community Schools Partnership