Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2020

Publication Title

Universities and Community Schools







Publisher Name

Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania


Loyola University Chicago (LUC) is a Jesuit university with a mission to prepare students to “set the world on fire” by promoting justice in the world. Led by its School of Education, LUC has worked to engage this mission in its emerging work with public school partners guided by core principles of mutual benefit among partners, place-based engagement within our communities, and a focus on sustainable relationships. While serving others represents the genotype of our 150-year-old Jesuit university and community and civic engagement represents its phenotype, the last ten years has seen change in the university’s phenotype through dramatic growth in both the strategic approach of its place-based engagement commitments and its direct work among multiple community schools. In 2011, the School of Education engineered a radical overhaul of its teacher preparation program moving from a traditional approach to teacher education that was campus- and text-based to a field-based apprenticeship model (Heineke & Ryan, 2018). To achieve this ambitious project, the School of Education generated and solidified relationships with 20-25 core school partners where field-based learning could take place. Transformation of the teacher preparation program coincided with a comprehensive school-university partnership at a neighborhood-based public high school that currently features more than 20 academic initiatives. In 2016, LUC introduced Schools 2020 to build on this success with five additional public schools. In 2018, LUC began to serve as the Lead Partner Agency (LPA) at six Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Community School Initiatives (CSI) sites. Currently more than 1000 students are served through out-of-school (OST) programs while 100 part-time instructors (LUC faculty and students, school teachers, and community organization staff ) work with students through more than 100 unique program activities. More than $4 million in CPS-CSI funding has been secured through 2024 to support this work. In this article, we seek to present the historical context in which our university-school partnership emerged and has developed, our approaches to and examples of the work, discuss challenges that have surfaced in the work and, finally, describe horizon opportunities for LUC. We argue here for a place-based, mutually beneficial approach to university-school partnerships that places relationships at the center of the work in order to achieve sustainability over time. We believe that relationships based in trust and mutuality throughout and across our institutions lead to powerful outcomes for faculty, teachers, students, and ultimately communities. We argue here that a focus on relationships can lead to organizational and community transformation in ways that transactional operational systems may not.


Author Posting © Netter Center, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of Netter Center for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Universities and Community Schools, Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2020,

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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