What We Do

Three key strategies underpin our work. The first is academically based community service (ABCS), service rooted in and intrinsically connected to research, teaching, and learning. The second is university-assisted community schools (UACS), which educate, engage, empower, and serve not only public school students, but also all other members of the community, providing an organizing framework for bringing our programs, including ABCS courses, to West Philadelphia schools. Third, we view ABCS and UACS as core to a comprehensive democratic anchor institution strategy in which universities engage in sustained, mutually beneficial partnerships with their communities. These strategies are shared with others across the country and around the world, serving as a model for democratic university-community engagement.

Approximately 80-90 Academically Based Community Service courses each year engage faculty and students across the university in collaborative real-world problem solving.


A major component of the Netter Center's work is mobilizing the vast resources of the University to help traditional public schools become innovative University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) that educate, engage, empower, and serve public school students, families, and community members. UACS focus on schools as core institutions for community engagement and democratic development, as well as link school day and after school curricula to solve locally identified, real-world, community problems.


We view ABCS and UACS as core to a comprehensive democratic anchor institution strategy in which universities engage in sustained mutually beneficial partnerships with their communities. 


The Netter Center works to create and strengthen local, regional, national, and international networks of colleagues and institutions of higher education engaged with their local schools and communities.


Partnerships with local schools and organizations work to advance literacy, STEM education, health and nutrition, post-secondary success, sports and fitness, arts and culture, and community economic development.

John Dewey photo 114x114

"Democracy must begin at home, and its home is the neighborly community."

John Dewey (1927)