Written by Jim Grim
For decades, IUPUI has supported university-assisted community school programs in the Near West area of Indianapolis. Currently, IUPUI is working with Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center and more than 70 area organizations collaborating on a second five-year, $2.3 million U.S. Department of Education-funded Near-Westside Community Schools Project focused on five Indianapolis Public Schools – George Washington Community High School, Daniel Webster School 46, Stephen Foster School 67, Wendell Phillips School 63 and William Penn School 49. In the past year, the project collectively served 11,179 individuals with support services including tutoring and mentoring, health and mental health services and adult workforce development certification opportunities.
As part of the community school initiative, George Washington Community High School students participate in a variety of learning experiences in the HUB afterschool program sponsored by the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. More than 170 total students participate in the popular out-of-school activities at the Near-Westside school, averaging about 90 students on typical school days. Coordinator Brandon Buckley reports that an average 75.5 percent of consistent high school participants last school year earned language arts and math high school credits, 25 percentage points above the program goal approved by the Indiana Department of Education.
“The HUB is important to me because it’s the only place where I hang out with my friends, and get my homework done,” student Nolan Hawkins expressed in a writing prompt last spring. Consistently since the program’s inception in 2008, students identify time with the adults—including IUPUI service scholar tutors and activities leaders—as the most valued part of the HUB experience.
Jim Grim, from the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement, and Clark Lienemann, CEO of Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, recently—with the help of multimedia professional Michael Anthony in the IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning—produced a short video about the neighborhood center’s Near-Westside Community Schools experience with IUPUI and other collaborating partners. The video was presented in October at a national Education Innovation Summit of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities in Chicago, which included neighborhood centers and related organizations. It will also be used for professional development and university courses in school/community engagement.