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An educational campus is a cluster of connected buildings that offers the larger community a variety of developmental activities by bringing together many community services such as health care, education, training, workforce development, and business services with opportunities for recreation and spiritual development on one site. When combined on one site, the environment created is a campus-like setting for social development in challenged communities. The combination of social service, educational, and recreational buildings creates an opportunity for lifelong alternatives for youth, seniors, and all segments of the community. An investment in such a campus is an investment in human capital, which ultimately results in more productive residents.

An educational campus, in short, can:

  • Serve as an incubator for developing people.
  • Eliminate the redundancies in community service.
  • Provide education, recreation, training, and spiritual development.
  • Offer more than just academic education.
  • Generate more federal and state dollars for our neighborhoods.
  • Become an educational & training center for all of the residents of the neighborhood.

Creating an educational campus requires:

  • A large tract of land in a neighborhood.
  • Forming partnerships with various entities agencies and organizations.
  • Combining the services of many agencies on one campus.


The term community center refers to a facility that provides opportunities for social interaction through community activities, recreation, community events, education or training (sometimes including Internet-based courses) or other programs, as well as meeting spaces. Community centers may be operated by a paid staff and are proactively determine community needs. They try to be innovative in helping to meet those needs, and a benefit to all groups in the community. They are non-competitive and strive to complement other resources in the community.

Though community centers and educational campuses are somewhat similar in concept, the latter require much more space. A community center typically consists of a single building or, in some cases, a series of connected buildings offering a variety of social activities. Generally, a community center is one component of an integrated network of services. It should be inclusive and easily accessible, and encourage active involvement by neighborhoods residents.

To learn more about community school centers & educational campuses from around the country, go to the Coalition for Community Schools website.


The neighborhoods surrounding the University of Southern California’s University Park and Health Sciences campuses are among the most culturally vibrant and historically significant in the city of Los Angeles. The University Park area, downtown Los Angeles, and the arts & education corridor that connects them are home to an array of outstanding museums, galleries, theaters, sport venues, gardens, libraries, churches and colleges; while the Health Sciences campus and its surrounding neighborhoods are rich with historical landmarks, architectural treasures, public parks, and arts centers.

This unique mix of education and entertainment opportunities, art and culture, past and future—all sitting within a few city miles—draws millions of visitors from all over the world each year. But what makes this exciting cultural and educational destination even more interesting is that it is also a residential neighborhood. Here, living side by side, are not only students, faculty and other professionals, but working people of all types and backgrounds—as culturally diverse a community as you could ask for: a living laboratory of community collaboration that has become an exciting model for urban revitalization. Residents regularly team up with university volunteers to create safe streets and fine schools, making the area, in short, a good place to raise children.

The university, for its part, is committed to using its expertise and influence in government and business circles to address the needs of the people who live, work, study and worship in the neighborhoods surrounding its University Park and Health Sciences campuses, targeting such things as safety issues and educational, cultural and economic opportunities. By forming respectful partnerships and real collaborations with its neighbors that link university and community resources, USC has played a vital (and much appreciated) part in significantly enhancing the quality of life of its neighbors.

This is an example of community building in the best sense: It (1) builds on assets, (2) involves residents in setting goals and shaping strategies to achieve them, (3) targets an area of manageable size with which the residents identify, (4) crafts a neighborhood-specific strategy, (5) brings maximum expertise and resources to solving problems by forging creative partnerships and program linkages, (6) is holistic and integrative in character—acknowledging the interlocking nature of a community’s problems, and (7) structures each initiative in a manner that reinforces community values and builds social and human capital. (See Arthur J. Naparstek and Dennis J. Dooley, Community Building in Public Housing: Ties that Bind People and Their Communities, Foreword by Andrew Cuomo, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., 1997.) For more details, see the University of Southern California’s Web site:

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