UCAP is a dedicated advocate for at-risk students in Rhode Island. We happily offer support to school districts or individuals interested in creating small alternative schools anywhere in the nation.
In addition to key elements of the UCAP model explained elsewhere on this site, here are several more we consider essential:
Job-Embedded Professional Development
We believe that continuously working together to develop the curriculum, instruction, and assessment is a sure route to real improvement in student learning. While we take advantage to learn about the best of what outside organizations can offer to our school improvement, we always bring it home to talk about and apply with our colleagues. We also feel that staff should have a significant voice in guiding and leading staff development to meet individual needs and to address our shared goals and vision. We accomplish this through a number of faculty groups (e.g. Reading Study Group, Problem-Solving Study Group, Professional Development Committee, etc.) that meet at least once a month to discuss matters of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
A number of satellite groups convene when needed (e.g. Student Showcase Committee, Technology Committee, etc.). The whole staff also comes together monthly for 2-3 hours to focus on issues pertinent to our yearly goals. During this time, we discuss articles and books, look at student work, and give each other feedback on practice.
Ongoing Organizational Assessment
UCAP incorporates a variety of assessment techniques in order to evaluate the school’s programs. This allows the school to evaluate how well the program is meeting the needs of the students. Changes are then implemented and the assessment cycle begins again.
Independent and Autonomous
The Urban Collaborative is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, controlled by a board of superintendents from the school departments of Providence, Central Falls, and Cranston. Decisions by the board are based upon what is best for the students of UCAP, so that policies, daily practice, and procedures can be tailored to the needs of a small school serving at-risk urban youth. The daily operation of the school is overseen by a director who works closely with the staff to make decisions in virtually every aspect of the school including: curriculum and instruction, staffing, discipline policies, selection of students, use of resources, use of space, technology, school schedule, and school culture. Staff members at UCAP are encouraged to assume roles of leadership, and are supported in their efforts to improve the school. Many of UCAP's most successful and valuable programs are the result of staff leadership.
Aside from working very closely with middle and high schools in the participating communities, many community-based organizations assist UCAP in serving at-risk youth. These organizations support art programs, student mentorships, recreation, guidance, and special programs. UCAP benefits by a partnership with the University of Rhode Island through the placement of student interns in the classrooms. Other volunteers also serve on advisory boards and sub-committees to assist UCAP in special initiatives. Individuals and organizations from the community also play a large role in UCAPs Beyond School Programs.
In addition, through the Fund for UCAP, UCAP receives substantial funding from many individuals, businesses, and foundations. Contributions from these sources allow the staff to continue developing programs that meet the needs of UCAP students and make them feel UCAP is a special place.
To learn more about our model and possible options for replication, please contact founder/director Rob DeBlois.