Schools are the ‘hubs and hearts’ of neighborhoods – here’s how they can strengthen the communities around them

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“Food deserts. Poor housing conditions. Lack of community investment.

These challenges may not always come to mind when people think about how to improve America’s public schools.

But when my colleagues and I studied the 21st Century School Buildings Program, a US$1.1 billion school building and renovation initiative in Baltimore, these were the kinds of issues that staff from community-based organizations, schools, philanthropic organizations and city agencies hoped to address through improved school facilities.

Schools are the “hubs and hearts” of neighborhoods, as one community member told us during our research in the Southeast, Southwest and Cherry Hill sections of Baltimore. If, as one community school coordinator shared, schools want to achieve their goals to educate students, they should strengthen the communities that surround them.”

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