Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies

Major Advisor

Ginna Husting, Ph.D.


A new trend in U.S. education is community-based schools. Community schools offer on-site programs and services to whole families to improve student success. Community-based schools can improve student learning, increase parent participation, give teachers more time to focus on instruction, and create the necessary conditions for learning. But we know relatively little about successful new programs in rural states and smaller urban centers. This thesis, a case study of an elementary school in a small U.S. urban center, identifies key factors for the success of such programs. Through in-depth interviews with administrators, teachers, and support staff the following factors were identified: a strong teaching staff; a supportive and collaborative principal; district leaders who find funding for the school; academic and extracurricular support programs for students and families. While most low socio-economic schools are limited by lack of social capital, this case study shows that social capital, as well as strong supportive staff and leaders, and access to federal funding are vital to the success of community-based schools.