Neighborhood development and school-community partnerships: the case of Barrio Promesa

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This study explores community development initiatives and school-community partnerships that took place during the period 1998 - 2010 in Barrio Promesa, a Hispanic immigrant neighborhood within a large metropolitan area

This study explores community development initiatives and school-community partnerships that took place during the period 1998 - 2010 in Barrio Promesa, a Hispanic immigrant neighborhood within a large metropolitan area of the South Western United States. More specifically, it examines the initiatives and partnerships carried out through three main sectors of social actors: a) elected officials, public administrators and their agencies of the city; b) the neighborhood elementary school and school district administration; and c) civil society inclusive of non-profit agencies, faith-based organizations and businesses entities. This study is bounded by the initiation of development efforts by the city on the front end. The neighborhood school complex became the center of educational and social outreach anchoring nearly all collaborations and interventions. Over time agents, leadership and alliances changed impacting the trajectory of development initiatives and school community partnerships. External economic and political forces undermined development efforts which led to a fragmentation and dismantling of initiatives and collaborations in the later years of the study. Primary threads in the praxis of community development and school-community partnerships are applied in the analysis of initiatives, as is the framework of social capital in understanding partnerships within the development events. Specific criteria for analysis included leadership, collaboration, inclusivity, resources, and sustainability. Tensions discovered include: 1) intra-agency conflict, 2) program implementation, 3) inter-agency collaboration, 4) private-public-nonprofit partnerships, and 5) the impact of public policy in the administration of public services. Actors' experiences weave a rich tapestry composed of the essential threads of compassion and resilience in their transformative human agency at work within the global urban gateway of Barrio Promesa. Summary, conclusions and recommendations include: 1) strategies for the praxis of community development, inclusive of establishing neighborhood based development agency and leadership; 2) community development initiative in full partnership with the neighborhood school; 3) the impact of global migration on local development practices; and 4) the public value of personal and civil empowerment as a fundamental strategy in community development practices, given the global realities of many urban neighborhoods throughout the United States, and globally.