Edited by Ira Harkavy and Matthew Hartley
133 pages. $29.
The Summer 2009 issue of New Directions for Youth Development, the quarterly journal on theory, practice and research in youth development, focuses on the 20-year-old civic university movement. It says that across the country, the ivory-tower mentality is fading as universities partner with organizations and schools to support educational development.
Five case studies look at urban universities working with public schools to create university-assisted community schools that serve as neighborhood hubs, revitalizing the urban environment.
In Dayton, Ohio, the restructuring of K-8 schools as year-round Neighborhood School Centers, spearheaded by the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community at the University of Dayton, is restoring local identity after 30 years of court-ordered busing. Similar results have been seen at schools in Buffalo, N.Y., partnering with the Center for Urban Studies at the State University of New York; and in Indianapolis, working with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The most unusual project profiled here involves more than 20 Philadelphia schools combating obesity through partnerships that offer nutrition education, community service, access to healthy foods through youth gardens, and youth-led organizing, peer education and internships. The most compelling report comes from Widener University in Chester, Pa., home of the state’s worst school district. The rocky path to improving opportunities for Chester’s youth makes for a gripping account of a story still in progress, about energizing the university and the city.