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This paper is a journey that explores the complexity and optimism of community/higher education partnerships to support youth. It provides an analysis of the dynamics and history of power and racism. It raises critical questions regarding the role and approach of higher education and America’s Promise, the national alliance for youth. Ultimately, it offers an opportunity to view our communities differently and engage in a process that provides the potential for authentic democratic solution generating, inclusive of the grassroots voice.

This work seeks to enhance the process and intellectual thought supporting the higher education initiative within America’s Promise and community/higher education partnerships in general.

I explore this journey through the lens of institutionalized racism and communities as living systems. These seemingly evasive and separate constructs provide clarity for this work in examining barriers to community/higher education relationships and opportunities for working through and understanding these barriers.