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Reading List: Systemic Collaboration for Youth

**Roach, C. M., & McLaughlin, M. W. (2007). The Redwood City 2020 Collaborative: Building Capacity for Community Youth Development. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.


This case study traces the history of systemic collaboration in Redwood City from early school-based efforts to reach out to their surrounding neighborhoods to the formation of a full city-wide collaboration and mobilization. The mission of Redwood City 2020 is “to forge meaningful partnerships to support the success of youth and families and to engage and strengthen the community.” Key operating principles include: leveraging resources, sustaining and adapting successful programs, and coordinating cross-system interventions informed by data. The case examines how partners of Redwood City 2020 have responded to youth’s ever-changing needs, the pressures of economic shifts, and policy changes. The authors assert that civic capacity can be created and mobilized for community change and community leaders can create new resources and make existing programs and policies work to collective advantage.


**Langman, J, & McLaughlin, M. W. (1993). Collaborate or Go It Alone? Tough Decisions for Youth Policy. In S. Brice Heath & M. W. McLaughlin (Eds.), Identity & Inner-City Youth (pp. 147-175). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Available for purchase at


This chapter reviews several cases of collaboration in three metropolitan areas, ranging from successful to failed efforts. The authors consider the factors that affect collaborative relationships for better or worse (e.g., organizational structures), the day-to-day operations of the collaboration, and the goals for the collaborative. The authors assert that it is important for organizations to consider the benefits and costs of a collaborative effort before entering into such an enterprise.


Warren, M. R. (2005, Summer). Communities and Schools: A New View of Urban Education Reform. Harvard Educational Review, 75(2). Available at


This article focuses on the need to link urban school reform to the revitalization of communities around these schools. The author identifies three types of collaborative efforts between schools and community-based organizations, including: the service approach, the development approach, and the organizing approach.


Gray, R. & Lamson, L. (2007). The Role of Community Engagement in a Smart Education System. In R. Rothman (Ed.), City Schools: How Districts and Communities Can Create Smart Education Systems (pp. 87-98). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Available for purchase at:


In this chapter, the authors define community engagement with schools and school districts as critical to the redesign of “smart education systems.” In addition, the authors describe how grassroots organizations can break down the barriers that have traditionally kept schools and community members apart, and how partners such as universities and local organizations can support their efforts.


Voices in Urban Education. (2007, Fall). Skills for Smart Systems. Providence, RI: Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Available at


This issue of Voices in Urban Education (VUE) includes a series of articles on the development of smart education systems – systems in which schools, community organizations, civic agencies, and parents partner together to ensure that youth achieve successful outcomes. The articles discuss the social, political, and technical capacities necessary to develop these systems effectively at scale, highlighting ways in which institutions and individuals must work collaboratively in new ways. Several articles provide examples of communities that are working to build these systems.


**This document is considered a priority reading.