Small Schools Project

The Philadelphia Education Fund's Small Schools Project is focused on involving the community, including youth, in local school design.

Together with two youth-led organizations, Youth United for Change and the Philadelphia Student Union, the Ed Fund initiated the Small Schools Project in 2005 as a mechanism to facilitate efficient and effective synchronization of school facility design, educational needs, and neighborhood development needs.

The Project focuses on creating high performing high schools in place of the current West Philadelphia and Kensington High Schools. Two Sustainability Circles (now referred to as the West Philadelphia Community Partners and Kensington Schools and Community Coalition) in West Philadelphia and Kensington — comprised of engaged community members and convened by the Ed Fund and our youth-led organizational partners — guide the process. They hold monthly meetings and the Ed Fund provides technical assistance in order to build their capacity to contribute to the design of their new neighborhood high schools. Concordia, LLC, a New Orleans-based design firm, was one of the founding partners of the Small Schools Project, developing the Sustainability Circle model in Philadelphia and providing the Ed Fund with a construct for community advocacy.

Concordia's original plans for each neighborhood high school are available here:

> Kensington High School Community Plan
> West Philadelphia High School Community Plan

In the last year, the Ed Fund began a new direction for the project — helping the community plan the educational programs for Kensington and West Philadelphia as an integral part of overall school design. The Ed Fund is engaging educational consultants to work with school staff and community members to develop educational programming that is synergistic with the new building design. The Ed Fund is also assisting the schools in creating a long-term strategy for continued community involvement, based in the school council model. The economic drivers of the two communities heavily influence this long-term strategy. It will involve local businesses, community development corporations (CDC), neighborhood associations, residents, parents, and students, as well as the colleges and universities that have a stake in the high schools.

Additional Links and Resources

Small Schools Presentation, December 2008