When we asked about the role a school could play in its neighborhood, participants overwhelmingly supported the school becoming more of a resource for the neighborhood, and essentially the center of the community. Respondents thought that community members should be able to use the school for neighborhood events, adult education classes, information sessions, job training, and other civic engagement events. The overriding theme was that the school should be open and available to the community and serve as a hub for the community. As one participant from Sandtown put it, “School can become an oasis in the middle of the desert.”
As part of the connecting role that schools could play, participants thought that schools might be able to help communities directly as well. Some suggestions included food pantries and clothing centers, but there were also suggestions to bring government service offices and health clinics into the schools so that people have easier access to them. Participants also discussed how opening schools up to the community for non-traditional school functions could have the added benefit of increasing parent and community involvement in schools, as citizens become more comfortable in the school setting.