How Duke and NCCU Can Better Support Community Schools

Project Team

Since 2019, students, faculty and staff from Duke and North Carolina Central University (NCCU) have worked with Durham Public Schools (DPS) to advance the University-assisted Community Schools model. This model strengthens and empowers public schools by bringing together academics, health and social services, youth development and community engagement under one roof with the support of local universities.

In 2021-2022, the team identified three main areas in which universities can partner with schools to address community needs, including visualizing community data, integrating health services and creating an anti-racist curriculum to train university students to volunteer in public schools in Durham.

In Summer 2021, a related Data+ team created a public online dashboard to foster an asset-based understanding of DPS neighborhoods and solicited feedback by hosting a focus group of school principals.

During the academic year, the health subteam reached out to schools in Durham that served a high number of free and reduced lunches and had limited access to health clinics and learned what priorities the county and the parents of school-aged children had for supporting students’ health.

Finally, the curriculum subteam found that public school teachers, university faculty and undergraduate students all felt the need for more volunteer preparation before entering the school environment. The team identified key areas for preparation. including learning and integrating anti-racist practices, learning the history of Durham and the Durham Public School system, and identifying strategies for engaging specifically with the students and families from Durham communities, and worked with stakeholders to develop a curriculum to meet these needs.

Strengthening Partnerships Between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities

Poster by Jasmine Benner, Amaya Jackson and Melanie Moseley

Project poster.