Schools as Center of Community

A4LE Deep Thinking Days

April 14-15, 2021

Schools as Center of Community

Kate Mraw, LPA
Tasha Lightning, NAC
Dr. Julie Z. Cramer, Wayfind Education


Schools are positioned to serve as centers of their community and provide a wide range of support programs that advance both civic and educational experiences. It’s time to reimagine the school campus as a community center. Playing a key role in providing resources, schools have given even more support to families beyond the needs of education since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020. What if we took that one step further and developed schools as sustaining community centers, providing resources and supports to neighborhood families from nutrition to wellness, civic and family resources or even co-locating healthcare, housing, or service amenities?

Schools are best positioned to take care of people because that’s what they do. Student success does not occur in a vacuum, it is a function of involvement in the whole community. This conference will explore how we leverage the benefits of the community to the school and the opportunity in how schools can benefit the community, deeply exploring where education meets society and the implications for space design.

This 2-day Virtual Conference will strengthen your core competencies in Community Engagement, Design of Educational Facilities, and Educational Facility Pre-Design Planning. In this interactive event, we’ll learn together how to advance educational environments and create stronger connections between schools and their communities.


  1. Collect tools and research around culturally and community responsive spaces.
  2. Gain a perspective to understand your own community in a deeper way through thought-provoking discussion.
  3. Gain access to a network of community-minded educational advocates.
  4. Challenge each other to boldly redefine the relationship between school and community.


Process Idea

The Big Idea is to have an immersive experience, process will model the topic: engage as a community and with that lens

Pre-session research around relationship of schools + community (infographic/video/link/report)

Facilitate a 3-part panel series of dialogue (presentation/panel/presentation)

Dedicated time to reflect around unique community & opportunities (individual/pair/group)

Breakout Group Discussion: How might school sites be more inclusive post-COVID? (share/discuss/design)

Regroup and Share our WOW (Wisdom, Opportunities & Wonderings)


Subject to change | *times shown in EST

11:00am – 11:30am Welcome & Overview
11:30am – 12:30pm Research Highlights
1:00pm – 2:30pm Explore 1 [panel] Understanding Community Schools Movement / Real World Examples
3:00pm – 4:00pm Explore 2 [speaker] Reimagining our Communities Through School Design
4:00pm – 5:00pm Explore 3 [panel]
11:00am – 11:30am Reflect: Facilitated Reflection
11:30am – 12:30pm Presentation / Challenges & Group Work Guidance
1:00pm – 2:30pm Challenge Break-Out Groups
3:00pm – 4:00pm Share back our WOW (Wisdom, Opportunities & Wonderings)
4:00pm – 5:00pm Closing Discussion/Happy Hour


Commercial Member – $75
Commercial Non-Member – $150
Public Member – $25
Public Non-Member – $75


Details for accessing the virtual event will be sent prior to April 14. Must be paid in full to receive access.

Payment/Cancellation Policy
All registration payments will be required by the start of the event. Cancellation requests must be made in writing to There is a $15 processing fee for all cancellations, no refunds will be issued for registrations cancelled after March 31, 2021.