Neighborhoods Matter: The Role of Universities in the School Reform Neighborhood Development Movement

Where you find distressed neighborhoods, you will also find poorly performing public schools. Yet many contemporary school reform efforts ignore neighborhood-level factors that undeniably impact school performance. The purpose of this study is to use a case study approach with social institutional and urban school reform regime frameworks to demonstrate why school reform and the re-creation and redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods should occur simultaneously. At the same time, researchers will examine the role of higher education in catalyzing partnerships with so-called anchor institutions for the explicit purposes of simultaneously improving neighborhoods and reforming schools. By focusing on a federal Choice neighborhood initiative, the study will not only make the case for connecting school reform and neighborhood development but also present a model that demonstrates how this can happen. The study will also make a strong case for the university’s unique role in fostering neo-collaborative structures fit to take on wicked problems of neighborhood distress and urban decline.