Educating for Community Change: Higher Education’s Proposed Role in Community Transformation through the Federal Promise Neighborhood Policy

Elizabeth Hudson


This study investigated a federal comprehensive community initiative, the Promise Neighborhood initiative, in order to understand higher education community engagement in an embedded context. Promise Neighborhood programs aim to create a place-based system of family and education services that can support youth from early childhood through college access and career. Through a qualitative analysis of the 21 Promise Neighborhood awardee applications nationwide, the author concluded that higher education institutions commit to these partnerships in four ways: mission-related practices associated with teaching, research, and service; capacity-building practices, including teacher training and community leadership development; programs and services, including direct community services; and administrative functions, such as grant management. Many of these functions in university-community partnership intersect with contributions related to university missions. Exploring higher education–community engagement from the perspective of community goals offers insight into practices related to universities’ and colleges’ civic mission and potential as anchor institutions.

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