A number of services for youth and families throughout the Circle City originated with the development in 2000 of a focused community school, George Washington Community School (GWCS).
IUPUI played a key role in the development of the Near-Westside secondary Indianapolis Public School, and continues to serve the school community as an anchor partner with more than 70 services providers and neighborhood organizations that collaborate to provide youth, their families and neighbors with necessary conditions for learning—like tutoring, mentoring, health and mental health access, personal fitness, college and careers prep and workforce development opportunities.
Notable services and programs that originated at GWCS include Centers for Working Families, Teachers Treasures, school-based Probation Officers and IUPUI Physically Active Residential Community and Schools (PARCS) fitness programs.
- Centers for Working Families, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, began in 2004 as part of the community school’s commitment to serve the needs of the broader community. In 2007, the first CWF moved from GWCS to nearby Hawthorne Community Center, and in 2008 to three additional neighborhood centers in Indianapolis that host the family-strengthening, financial opportunities program, now a program of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC). For more information, visit http://liscindianapolis.org/2016/03/centers-for-working-families-retrospective/.
- Teachers Treasures was founded through a partnership with Kroger Co. in 2000 at GWCS by 1953 George Washington High School Valedictorian, Mrs. Phyllis Imel (retired principal of nearby Daniel Webster Elementary School #46), to address the more than 100,000 Indianapolis students affected by poverty. The nonprofit moved to East 10th Street in 2006. It provides more than 2,400 teachers from 250 schools each year with secured school supplies their students need for learning. For more information, visit http://www.teacherstreasures.org/.
- Probation officers became a staple of all non-charter public high schools in Marion County after GWCHS founding principal Eileen Champagne convinced then-Judge James Payne to pilot an onsite officer at the Near-Westside community school in 2001. It had been a strategy to increase student attendance but within the first couple of years had helped to reduce the school-site probation officer’s caseload by 50 percent—an outcome worth replicating at all high schools of the city. For more information, visit http://indy.gov/eGov/Courts/Superior/CourtInfo/Pages/juvenile.aspx.
- The IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI began a personal fitness program at GWCS in 2004, then working mostly with Washington student athletes. When IPS invested in a $27 million renovation of the school, it featured a state-of-the art fitness facility on the back side of the building, accessible to provide low- or no-cost fitness activities managed and provided by IUPUI students in late afternoons and evenings for youth, school staff and area adults. Today, 250 IUPUI students make an annual fitness impact with more than 10,000 participants of PARCS programs at Washington, Ben Davis High School and the Chase Legacy Center of the Tech High School campus on the Near-Eastside. For more information, visit https://petm.iupui.edu/community/parcs/index.html.
For more information about youth and family services throughout the Circle City that originated at George Washington Community School, contact IUPUI Family, School and Neighborhood Engagement at 317-278-2000 or email at IN-FSNEWeb@exchange.iu.edu.