Community Campus

A New Approach : A Community Campus

Rosa Parks School isn’t just about meeting the needs of an increased number of families with school age kids.

A unique opportunity was envisioned: a “Community Campus.”

This campus concept emerged from acknowledging an available piece of land in New Columbia, adjacent to University Park Community Center. Thanks to the vision of the Housing Authority of Portland, the Portland Public Schools was encouraged to consider locating new school on this parcel, and was generously given the incentive of donated land and seed money. And strong organizational and project management support to help make it happen.

A New Approach, With New Partners

The Portland Public Schools and HAP reached out to natural partners who would serve the needs of the whole child, even after the school bell rings at the end of each day. Willing partners were found in the Boys & Girls Club of the Portland Metropolitan Area (which had served the Columbia Villa children earlier), and the City of Portland Parks and Recreation, which promised access to the recreational center.

Today, the campus links Rosa Parks School to a new Boys & Girls Club, and to a renovated University Park Community Center featuring a new full-size gym for all to use. Removing the street that separated school and community center property creates a common green space. A campus!

The Community Campus (with a school, club, recreation center today – and maybe a library and early childhood center in the future) serves the entire Portsmouth neighborhood, and becomes a hub for a diverse and healthy neighborhood.

How a Campus Supports the Whole Child

Carrying on the tradition of John Ball Elementary School, Rosa Parks School puts “children first,” focusing on the individual child… and on his or her physical, emotional and developmental needs. That’s first and foremost.

Then comes understanding the child in the context of the family. Additionally, the child and family live within the context of community. It is attention to all of these relationships that illustrates a comprehensive way to support the whole child. A space that supports the whole child needs to be designed from the child’s perspective, yet also needs to be welcoming to all adults who contribute to the child’s life.

And beyond welcoming, a campus provides opportunities for family involvement – in educational, recreational and supportive activities. That’s what is going on at Rosa Parks School and The Community Campus.

Creating the Center of Community

Identifying partners is one thing. Focusing on the interrelationships that affect the developmental needs of children is key. But to make it work takes effort, to transition from visions of the individual partners to a shared vision between the partners, from the ideals of cooperation to agreeing on guiding principles, from identifying common ideals to entering into an operational compact.

The efforts have paid off.

Partnership Vision

To re-create a center of community by combining the missions, programs and resources of public and private institutions. By doing so, this combined parternship supports the whole child, the whole neighborhood, and the whole community.

Guiding Principles

- Create a whole campus that is greater than the sum of its partners
- Share equally in the vision
- Support – strong and meaningful relationships between partners, users and place
- Identify and implement joint use of space to reduce capital costs and increase operational efficiencies, demonstrating to citizens the responsible use of limited resources
- Compromise by envisioning what could be, rather than what is

Community Compact

The partners of The Community Campus have agreed upon a “compact” governing the joint use of planned facilities. Its purpose is to:

- Provide for the joint development of facilities and programs that contribute significantly to re-creating a sense of community at New Columbia, and to expanding the programs and services available to children and families in the Portsmouth neighborhood and in the wider community.

- Establish a framework that will enable the partners to make effective and efficient use of the facilities at New Columbia to benefit their diverse constiuencies.

The community compact has been approved by each of the partners’ governing boards.