University-assisted Community Schools (2019-2020)


Community schools bring together academics, social services and youth development under one roof, leading to improved learning, stronger families and healthier communities. To support community schools, Durham Public Schools and its stakeholders address many challenges surrounding equitable school experiences and outcomes. To respond to these challenges, Bull City Community Schools Partnership was formed as a grassroots effort to transform schools.

The Community Schools Partnership asks stakeholders to leave silos and form coalitions, developing innovative curricula and teaching practices based on social justice and local leadership. Premised on a comprehensive asset and needs assessment, strategic planning, partner engagement and dedicated coordinators, the Community Schools Initiative uses culturally sustaining practices and stakeholder leadership to reduce barriers to success and offer school communities a chance for renewal.

This Bass Connections project will study the benefits and limitations of the University of Pennsylvania’s University-Assisted Community Schools program, focusing on ways universities can mobilize their resources to support Durhams public schools.

Project Description

This project aims to establish an equitable and sustaining partnership between Durham-based universities and Durham Public Schools. Establishing such a partnership requires universities to be active listeners, willing to learn from those currently and historically engaged in work surrounding public education.

The Bull City Community Schools Partnership is undertaking a needs and assets mapping project, a year-long effort that incorporates the perspectives of traditional and nontraditional stakeholders for each of the four pilot community schools. Only after the mapping is complete will schools have a defined sense of what their needs are and where universities might be able to support schools’ initiatives. This project team will respond to the needs identified through the mapping project by connecting existing university initiatives and resources with local community schools in a way that is mutually beneficial.

In order to achieve a vision of equitable partnership, the team aims to help prepare university faculty, staff and students for the practical and theoretical challenges of working with public school stakeholders. The team will prepare university students with the proper pedagogical training and youth development best practices. One long-term goal is a robust equity training curriculum for university stakeholders that focuses on race, class and the histories that complicate the relationships between universities and their surrounding public schools.

Anticipated Outputs

Symposium that engages North Carolina Central University, Duke University and Durham community members; literature review; data for further research


Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

  • Fall 2019: Conduct literature review; take fall break field trip to Netter Center; begin asset mapping of universities
  • Spring 2020: Research best practice models based on data from Needs and Assets Assessment; plan and host a symposium; present findings

Team Outputs to Date

University Partners for Durham Public Schools (Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase 2020)

University-assisted Community Schools (poster by Alec Greenwald, Yolanda Dunston, Amy Anderson, Jess Benton, Eliza Mathew, Erma Smith-King, Lindsey Miller Furiness, Chi Vo, Kevin McLeod, Kisha Daniels, Adam Hollowell, Jamie Eaton, Brie Russell, Aaron Crouse, Debra Best, Erica Phillips, Akelo Agingu, Jasmine Benner, Nicole Bonna, Alex Cho, Ce’Ondra Ellison, Milan Hamilton, Amaya Jackson, Stephanie Mayle, Bella Miller, Lillian Park, Joshua Podl, LaDearia Poulson, Michelle Qiou, Raisa Reed, Songia Wynn)

Project team Facebook group

This Team in the News

Duke–NCCU Group Visits Orlando to Learn About Community Partnership Schools

See related team, Strengthening Partnerships between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities (2020-2021).


Images: Courtesy of Bull City Community Schools Partnership blog

Courtesy of Bull City Community Schools Partnership blog.

Team Leaders

  • Amy Anderson, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Yolanda Dunston, School of Education, North Carolina Central University
  • Alec Greenwald, Academic Advising Center

/graduate Team Members

  • Aaron Crouse, Divinity-MDV
  • Brianne Russell, Liberal Studies-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Akelo Agingu, NCCU Student, Political Science (AB)
  • Jasmine Benner, NCCU Student
  • Nicole Bonna
  • Alex Chao
  • Ce'Ondra Ellison, Psychology (AB), African/African Am St (AB2)
  • Milan Hamilton, Psychology (AB)
  • Amaya Jackson, NCCU Student, Psychology (AB), Biology (AB2)
  • Stephanie Mayle, Political Science (AB)
  • Isabella Miller, Psychology (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Lillian Park, NCCU Student, Music (AB)
  • Joshua Podl, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • LaDearia Poulson, NCCU Student
  • Michelle Qiou, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Raisa Reed, Psychology (AB)
  • Songia Wynn, African/African Am St (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Deborah Best, School of Medicine-Pediatrics
  • Kisha Daniels, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Jamie Eaton, North Carolina Central University
  • Adam Hollowell, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Girija Mahajan, Duke College Advising Corps
  • Eliza Mathew, Community Affairs
  • Kevin McLeod, School of Medicine-Community and Family Medicine
  • Lindsey Miller, Office of Civic Engagement
  • Erma Smith-King, North Carolina Central University
  • Quynh-Chi Vo, Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Jessica Benton, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • North Carolina Central University (NCCU) - Department of Nursing
  • Durham Public Schools
  • Bull City Community Schools Partnership
  • North Carolina Central University (NCCU)-School of Education