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.
In particular, the Netter Center has worked to adapt its University-Assisted Community School model since the early 1990s, responding to growing national and international interest in this work.
Begun in 1987, and housed at the Netter Center, PHENND is a consortium of over 25 colleges and universities in the greater Philadelphia area. PHENND works with its member institutions to develop sustained and mutually beneficial community-based service-learning partnerships. PHENND’s K-16 Partnerships Network brings together higher education faculty and staff who work with public school partners, as well as with the School District of Philadelphia.
The Netter Center supports University-Assisted Community Schools Regional Training Centers on three-year funding cycles. University of Oklahoma-Tulsa served as the site of the first regional training center, beginning in 2008; Tulsa partners formed the Higher Education Forum of Oklahoma. IUPUI was selected as the second regional training center in 2011 and formed the Midwest Center for University-Assisted Community Schools. University of Connecticut was selected as the third regional training center in 2014 and established the New England University-Assisted Community School Collaborative. UCLA was selected as the fourth center in fall 2017 and established the UCLA Center for Community Schooling. Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY), was selected in fall 2020 as the fifth regional trainer center and will provide technical assistance across New York and New Jersey,
In 2015, based on the growing numbers of colleges and universities engaged in community school partnerships, the Netter Center worked with partners at the Coalition for Community Schools and Rutgers University-Camden to develop a University-Assisted Community Schools Network to share resources, best practices, and advance the work. Approximately 70 higher education institutions are now part of this network.
The Netter Center director chairs the Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF), a network of approximately 1,000 leaders promoting the engagement of anchor institutions—including colleges, universities, hospitals, community foundations, libraries, arts institutions, and other anchors—in community and economic development. The AITF is designed to develop and disseminate knowledge and function as an advocacy and movement building organization to create and advance democratic, mutually beneficial anchor institution-community partnerships. It is administered by Marga, Inc.
The Netter Center Director is Chair of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy (IC), which, since 1999, has worked with the Council of Europe (CoE) and seeks to explain and advance the contributions of higher education to democracy on community college, college and university campuses, their local communities and the wider society. It is comprised of the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa. The U.S. is represented by a Steering Committee from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Council on Education, Anchor Institutions Task Force, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Campus Compact, Democracy Commitment, and NASPA-Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Association of Universities (IAU) joined the overall cooperation between the IC and CoE in April 2018 and October 2019, respectively. In January 2021, CoE, IC, OAS, and IAU formally named their partnership the Global Cooperation for the Democratic Mission of Higher Education.
"As the progress of learning consists not a little in the wise ordering and institutions of each university, so it would be yet much more advanced if there were a closer connection and relationship between all the different universities of Europe than now there is."