The Center for Popular Democracy / February 2016
The key need for Cincinnati’s Community Learning Centers (CLC) was to create a true, deep and rich
community engagement process. They had been unable to pass a much-needed levy because the
larger community of the city had “disengaged” from the school system. The large majority did not
have students in the schools. To reengage them, the CLC staff had to think big. They had to think
beyond the confines of the school building.
They began in each neighborhood asking the same two questions: “What kind of school would you
want for your child?” and “What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in?” While the goal was,
without question, that young people should be academically successful, the focus was not exclusively
on academics. Annie Bogenschutz, Director of Training and Development at the Community Learning
Center Institute, told us that this needed to be a comprehensive approach: “We want to know what
your vision is for your community learning center as the hub of you community, not just inside the school
walls. Because you can have the greatest school academically, but if […] families don’t have sustainable
and affordable housing, they can’t live there… We have to engage and change the community as
well.” This is Community Schools as a community revitalization mechanism. ..