Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name



Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Moses Norman


In this study, the researcher explored the juncture between the community development and educational reform movements in distressed urban communities and investigated why institutions, such as school systems, are critical to the success of the community development movement.

The study utilized a multimethod approach employing three qualitative data sources—interviews, observations, and document review—to access the implementation of comprehensive reform in urban renewal communities and to determine if the presence of reform strengthens the value of teamwork, collaboration, and communication. A major emphasis of this ethnography was the introduction of the Urban Change through Community Engagement Theoretical Framework that identifies the close relationships among three mediations of experience, which are exemplified as (a) critical connections to collaborate, coordinate, and communicate; (b) the exchange of ideas, which reflects attempts at understanding relations through decisions, judgments, perceptions, and responses; and (c) commitments, which make it possible to consider the resources of tradition and culture that ultimately leads to collaborative building, a collective agenda, equity, and excellence. The hermeneutic model of interpretation continually puts forth relevant questions to challenge older beliefs and reaches beyond issues, policies, and structures to establish a focused analysis.

The researcher found that there are barriers that must be removed, which will aid policymakers, practitioners, and community activists in their work to close critical gaps that relate to race, class, and culture, consequently ensuring the success of the new model. Perhaps more importantly, the reason that the community development and school reform movements have not produced realistic models for educating students of color and radically reconstructing urban communities is because the movement does not effectively challenge structural forces that continually reproduce nihilistic conditions. Without attacking the structural barriers, the community development and school reform movements fail to challenge the causes of distress and underdevelopment in urban communities.

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