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Gloria Bonilla-Santiago

The Community Capitals Framework informs the following university-school comprehensive community development partnership. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, this research examines a holistic educational approach for children and families in a distressed urban city. The guiding theory of action centers on the belief that improving outcomes for young people and families with limited resources and opportunities necessitates the transformation of schools into entire communities where all children experience an excellent educational system with caring adults in all aspects of their lives. This study captures best practices during a 25-year trajectory of building and sustaining community development efforts, with outcomes leading to a successful cradle to college and careers pipeline that has strengthened the community and neighborhood and improved the quality of life for its young people dramatically. The cradle to college pipeline is linked to the university and the relationship is reciprocal, collaborative and respectful of community life. Through university oversight, management, and community ownership, the Rutgers/LEAP pipeline provides an integrated model and process for how it prepares students, trains families, builds community and remains sustainable. Community partnerships need to continue to support innovative practices to provide multi-faceted services with the community and be flexible to experiment, listen, evolve, grow and adapt over time. Most importantly, with conviction, intention, and guiding principles of social justice, equity, respect for community values, universities can be anchors of sustainable and meaningful change.