Article Type

Case Studies & Applied Research


In recent years, participatory action research projects aimed at addressing local social issues have gained interest in academic settings. These projects can contribute to university-community partnerships, but communication about such projects remains somewhat limited. This article contributes to these developing discussions by describing how a youth participatory action research project (YPAR) supported an ongoing university-community partnership between South University, a mid-sized private liberal arts school, and the local public school community. This educational partnership led to the Anchor Academy, a college access and success program for high school youth with limited financial resources and little or no family history of college. In 2010-2011, Anchor initiated a YPAR project to study the challenges limited-income, first-generation, and minority students faced on their path to college. This article describes how the project deepened university-community relationships, shaped broader awareness and local programming, and inspired a ripple effect of new partnerships that help to sustain the work of supporting marginalized students in their journeys toward college futures. It addresses the struggles faced by the project as well as the positive outcomes, ultimately arguing for the potential for critical, participatory research methodologies to serve as a particularly meaningful platform for collaboration between universities and their communities.