CIVIC CAPACITY AND SCHOOL/COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS IN A FRAGMENTED SUBURBAN SETTING: THE CASE OF 24:1

Authors


Todd Swanstrom, University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Boulevard, SSB 362, St. Louis, MO 63121-4499. E-mail: swansttf@gmail.com.

Abstract

ABSTRACT:  This paper uses the “civic capacity” framework to analyze an emerging school–community reform initiative, called 24:1, focused on an inner-ring suburban school district. Contrary to the existing literature on civic capacity, we argue that institutions strongly influence civic capacity building. A fragmented public sector and weak institutions of civil society, especially when combined with racial divisions and poverty, restrict the ability of local actors to collaborate among themselves and partner with outside institutions. Despite these daunting challenges, 24:1, led by a local nonprofit with a long history in the area and a school district with dynamic new leadership, has mobilized a diverse coalition of stakeholders and built consensus around a comprehensive plan for revitalization. But stronger indigenous institutions, as well as greater support from the business community, will be needed to sustain the initiative.

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