Building Better Communities Through Education
Great schools don’t exist in a vacuum; they work against themselves if developed without the community in mind. Thus a hallmark of Gestalt is creating great schools that build better communities.
To this end, we choose to serve low-income communities in Memphis, Tennessee that have failing schools. Then we catalyze grassroots leadership to revitalize the neighborhood, educate the youth through high-performing schools, and partner with providers to tackle out-of-school challenges that hinder students from succeeding. We currently serve East Memphis (Hickory Hill and Southwind) and North Memphis/Crosstown.
Since today’s scholars are tomorrow’s citizens, we ensure every student is community-ready by including service learning in our curriculum. Scholars give back to their communities, and reflect on what that service means to them personally and to the world around them.
Our Unique Vision
Gestalt is the only charter network in Memphis that puts as much emphasis on the out-of-school factors that could hinder a child from succeeding as on the in-school culture and academics. While we focus first and foremost on the scholars, we also work to rebuild and revitalize the communities where our scholars live and learn, which widens our impact. Moving forward, we’re now working on an innovative method to measure the impact we make on the community, and to track how improving the community makes a positive change for the students.
"Gestalt takes the idea of being woven into the fabric of the community one step further with their goal of building better communities through education." Jim Shelton, Education Lead, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, June 2016
Before moving into an area, Gestalt talks to the community members and stakeholders about their vision for the neighborhood, using these criteria to make a strategic decision:
- Clear academic need of students
- High poverty rates in the community
- Community desire for strong schools
- Interest by a community development organization to revitalize a section of town with Gestalt Community Schools
Early in the development of Power Center Academy and the Eden Square Town Center project in Hickory Hill, over 1,000 members of the local community came together to learn more and share their views. Neighbors continued to provide feedback and support as the project developed. As the first phase of the project opens in 2016, Gestalt and the project partners will celebrate this success with the community.