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A Partnership between Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and George Washington Community High School

Indiana University Purdue University IndianapolisUnited States

Topic(s): Community Engagement
Office of Neighborhood Partnerships
Project Start Date:
Funding Source:
University, Government
Higher Ed - Public, NGO, Government
Type of Institution:
30,300 in Fall 2009
Highest Degree Offered:
Project Contact Information:
Robert Bringle
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
420 University Blvd.
United States
Email Address:

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is dedicated to civic engagement and strategic partnerships that improve the quality of life in Indianapolis area. George Washington Community High School (GWCHS) reopened in 2000 as a community school with the support from IUPUI and other community organizations. Student and faculty involvement from IUPUI had a tremendous impact on high school student attendance, academic achievement, and enrollment in post-secondary education. Students majoring in graphic design, fitness and sports, education, nursing, and sociology support the success of the GWCHS-IUPUI partnership. The partnership has led to many multi-disciplinary neighborhood initiatives and replication of the community school model in other Indianapolis schools.

Project Description

Since 2000, George Washington Community School (GWCHS) has collaborated with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) to provide mutually beneficial partnerships and programs for Washington and IUPUI students.  The collaboration stems from a concern for educating youth and creating opportunities for the entire community to be engaged in growth and development efforts.  Most programs are developed from conversations among the stakeholders.  

Several programs today create greater capacity for GWCS and increase IUPUI student learning.  These programs include but are not limited to: Community Outreach Partnership Center – serves as a site for events and workshops on financial literacy, predatory lending and health; Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative – serves on taskforce groups especially those focused on education, and civic engagement; and Fugate Scholars Program – serve as a community site for service scholars and many tutors.  

The Fugate Scholars Program distinguished the IUPUI-GWCS partnership from others. Since 2006, it has become part of a larger Learning Communities Initiative at GWCS. As a strategy to create long-lasting partnerships and to increase organizational capacity in the community, the IUPUI Office of Neighborhood Partnerships has developed this program to address community needs.  College students implement various college preparatory curriculum for student’s grades 5 –12 at the school or at various sites where students will matriculate to GWCS. IUPUI students and students from other colleges serve as Service Scholars. Scholarships are renewed each semester for Fugate Scholars who properly fulfill their scholarship commitment.
Although some programs come and go, the George Washington monthly community advisory council meetings provide a forum to engage and connect new and existing partners.   IUPUI has representation on the advisory council and is engaged in setting goals for student achievement.  In addition to this support, multiple programs that are staffed by IUPUI students create greater capacity for the school to address such topics as seeking post-secondary education, tutoring for math, science and language arts, assisting with after-school programs, serving as college-prep tutors, and funding and training for teacher-focused service learning classes. 
Approximately 50 to 75 IUPUI students, faculty and staff work with GWCS each school year.  The work at GWCS provides a platform for IUPUI students to learn in the community.  The students receive hands-on experience working with students, teachers, administrators and other partnering agencies.  Students gain exposure to a thriving community resource in one of the poorest communities in Indianapolis.  They have an opportunity to make an impact on future development of the community by assisting GWCS students and their families with education and learning about the in’s and out’s of education after high school.  IUPUI students are given the opportunity to become role models.  They share their own stories with high school students and provide encouragement.  The individual students tell the GWCS students that, “If I can be a college student, so can you!”

Project Results

George Washington Community School is a model for school/community engagement.  The school has been awarded the Inaugural National Community School Award by the National Coalition for Community Schools and was recognized by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio in 2004 as “one of the nation’s best examples of a school as center of community.”  Also, IUPUI has been selected as a recipient of one of five 2010 Outreach Scholarship W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Awards.

The impact of the partnership for GWCS is significant. For example, 91% of the 2008 GWCS graduating class went onto post-secondary education. Some of the students attend IUPUI as various majors including construction technology and education.

The partnership has prompted IUPUI to become engaged in larger national, even global, conversations on engaging universities in their surrounding community, which for urban campuses is most often underserved neighborhood.  The success of the GWCS partnership inspires IUPUI staff to constantly develop concepts for new ways to engage in community.  It has also helped to secure funding for programs in financial literacy and health promotion.  IUPUI students have been enhanced and inspired by the partnership with the school as well. 

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