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Urban Community School
ISACS Membership status: Provisional Member School

Address: 4909 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
Telephone: (216) 939-8330
Fax: (216) 939-8324
Web site:
Grade Levels: PK-8
Enrollment: 585
Boarding/Day: Day
Gender: Coed
School Description:

Urban Community School is committed to providing an affordable high quality education for the children we serve. With a focus on children from Near West Side neighborhoods whose families are struggling with the effects of poverty, we can’t limit our focus to a child’s academic needs. Instead, we must care for the “whole-child” and the many needs they bring with them into the classroom each day.


Mission, History and Approach

The Mission of Urban Community School is to provide an affordable high quality education for primarily low-income children on Cleveland's Near West Side.


In 1968 on the Near West Side of Cleveland, enrollment was declining in the city parish schools and the public schools were facing considerable turbulence. In response, the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland led the merger of the parish schools of St. Malachi, St. Wendelin, and St. Patrick to create the fully incorporated 501(c)(3)-- P.M. Foundation, Inc. dba Urban Community School (UCS). UCS was formed with an ecumenical mission and an eagerness to serve all faith traditions with an accreditation through the Ohio Catholic School Accreditation Association (OCSAA). As an OCSAA Accredited School, we were considered part of the Catholic Apostolate within the Diocese of Cleveland. Practically the relationship boiled down to the following practicalities:

  1. We received free rent in the local catholic school buildings we originally occupied for approximately 30 years

  2. We participated in the Diocesan Pension Plan, Property and Casualty Insurance Plan, and Healthcare plan


However we were always owned and operated by a Board of Trustees. We decided to opt out of the healthcare plan in 2018, finding more competitive options in the marketplace.


Based on our mission, UCS seeks to develop well rounded children through five core areas of development: academic development, social development, emotional development, spiritual development and physical development. Through small class sizes and a focus on small group learning, UCS strives to know each child and make our children feel known and cared for. UCS's curriculum also complies with all Ohio Department of Education standards and the Common Core.


While we stress excellence in academics, we reach far beyond this core. UCS acts as an extended family, stepping in to support some of the greatest needs families have as they struggle with the effects of poverty. This approach has evolved from hiring a staff counselor, to collaborating with community partners to better support family needs beyond academics. Unfortunately, the impact of these approaches is inherently limited because it does not allow us fully wrap around the child and family. In response to those limitations, we are now breaking ground on the next phase of Urban Community School. In collaboration with our community partner, we are constructing a 32,000 square-foot school-based community health clinic (Opening Summer 2020) and a 19,000 square-foot birth to age 3 early childhood enrichment center (Opening Spring 2021). In 2018 we constructed a 10,000 square- foot youth development with Urban Squash Cleveland and a new youth lacrosse field with U.S. Lacrosse to expand after-school and summer programming opportunities alongside our other offerings. This wrap-around approach enables us to effectively extend the school day and the school year without drastically expanding our budget.


In 2018 the Diocese of Cleveland chose to remove UCS as a member of the Catholic Apostolate as a result of our collaboration with MetroHealth on our school-based community health clinic. After thoroughly researching the healthcare landscape, MetroHealth, their portfolio of services, and their experience with our population proved to be the ideal partner for supporting our families. However, as a public health organization, MetroHealth is unable to adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church. Now, UCS is pursuing an accreditation with ISACS as an independent school. We will remain a faith-based ecumencial school, supporting a diversity of faith traditions.


Demographics and Geography

Urban Community School focuses on children living in areas with the greatest need on Cleveland's Near West Side. These boundaries are roughly Lake Erie to Denison Avenue and the Cuyahoga River to W. 117th Street. The students of UCS are highly diverse and primarily low-income. The demographics of UCS' student body for the 2018-2019 school year are representative of the neighborhood we serve: 33% Hispanic, 24% Caucasian, 21% African American, 1% Asian, and 21% Two or More Races. The majority of children that UCS serves are living in poverty as demonstrated by the fact that 75% qualify for the Federal Food Assistance Program. Of that group, 89% qualify for free lunches through this federal program.

55 West Wacker, Suite 701 · Chicago, IL 60601 · Telephone (312) 750-1190 · Fax (312) 750-1193
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