University-Assisted Community Schools Network

The Netter Center works to create and strengthen local, regional, national, and international networks of institutions of higher education committed to engagement with their local schools and communities. In particular, the Netter Center’s University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) strategy has been adapted nationally and internationally to educate, engage, empower, and serve public school students, families, and community members with higher education institutions serving as the lead partners. In addition to network meetings, conferences, and technical assistance, the Netter Center regularly hosts colleagues from higher education, K-12 education, and community partners from around the country and globe who are interested in learning from and adapting the Center’s work. 

In 2015, with the increasing number of colleges and universities mobilizing their resources to develop university-assisted community schools (UACS) and innovative university-community-school partnerships, the Netter Center, in collaboration with the Coalition for Community Schools and Rutgers University-Camden, organized a University-Assisted Community Schools Network. Approximately 70 higher education institutions are now part of this network, which aims to build a professional learning community among higher education leaders that shares resources and best practices to advance university-assisted community schools policy and practice.

25th Conference UACS Students Dance Performance

Netter Center 25th Anniversary Conference Dance Performance by University-Assisted Community School Students


Penn staff and students deliver hands-on STEM lessons at University-Assisted Community School

Penn staff and students deliver hands-on STEM lessons at University-Assisted Community School


ABCS Film Course

Academically Based Community Service Course - Creating ethnographic films with students in Philadelphia high schools

UACS Network Goals:
  • Exploring current models of university-assisted community schools.
  • Join faculty members, administrators, and practitioners to share best practices.
  • Identifying the varying definitions and stages of UACS work.
  • Placing UACS in the current policy and reform landscape, and fitting UACS work within current education and school reform initiatives.

Consistent with these goals, among the specific topics the Network addresses are:

  • Defining the university's role as a lead partner, intermediary, or initiative leader;
  • Connecting academia to regular school day and after school programming through both teaching and research;
  • Funding and sustainability strategies;
  • Identifying platforms to share resources and best practices;
  • Exploring areas of collaboration among different UACS models and initiatives;
  • Best practices for Research and Evaluation; and
  • Management of undergraduate and graduate resources;

Meetings: UACS Network meetings are held once a month on Zoom, generally on the third Monday.

Network website: The University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) National Network created a website in June 2020 to share its work as part of the virtual Rise Up For Equity Summit on Community Schools and Family Engagement, organized by the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Coalition for Community Schools. The higher education partners featured on the site participated in a "deep dive" session on university-assisted community schools on June 15, 2020. The content developed for this site mirrors the Summit’s focus on equity and shares key details and information about UACS sites across the country. Originally planned as an in-person meeting in Los Angeles, the Summit’s local co-hosts included the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, which hosts this website and serves as a University-Assisted Community Schools Regional Training Center supported by the Netter Center. Visit the UACS Network website here.

UACS Regional Training Centers: Part of the Netter Center endowment is designated to fund regional training centers on university-assisted community schools on three-year cycles. University of Oklahoma-Tulsa served as the site of the first regional training center in 2008. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was selected as the second regional training center in 2011, and University of Connecticut was selected as the third regional training center in 2014. UCLA Center for Community Schooling became the fourth regional training center in 2017, and Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY), was selected as the fifth site in 2020.

Universities and Community Schools Journal: Since its founding in 1989, the purpose of Universities and Community Schools, a publication of the Netter Center, has been to help build an informal international network of academics and practitioners working, in different places and ways, to increase the contributions universities make to the development and effectiveness of community schools. View online issues of UCS here.

Interested in joining this Network or learning more about UACS Regional Training Centers: Contact Cory Bowman, Associate Director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships,

Netter 25th Conference Community Schools Plenary

Netter 25th Anniversary Conference Community Schools Plenary


UACS image

Karen Quartz (UCLA) leading workshop at Netter Center's UACS Conference