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Date of Award

Spring 2016

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Ed.D. Capstone Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Ginger MacDonald

Second Advisor

Ali Modarres

Third Advisor

Jack Bermingham


Over the past several decades, poverty rates in the United States have been rising more rapidly in the suburbs than anywhere else. Today, in fact, more poor people live in U.S. suburbs than in its cities. While poverty is painful in any setting, a suburb in decline can present its residents with particularly difficult obstacles, including deteriorating public infrastructure, under-funded schools, fragmented social services, time-consuming travel to distant jobs, and a lack of coherent political influence to address those liabilities. For the community colleges that serve such regions, the rise of suburban poverty challenges the institution’s traditional mission of community service. Seattle-area Highline College is one such institution. Serving the low-opportunity suburbs of South King County, Washington, Highline has opted to redouble its community-engagement initiatives in support of its diverse neighborhoods. Its ultimate vision includes the establishment of a Campus Center for Community Engagement that unites the region’s community-development resources, raises community voice, and provides a platform for sustained, community-driven renewal. In doing so, Highline draws on a deep tradition of community empowerment as an element of the two-year college mission, as well as a pro-active, asset-based vision of educational institutions as backbones of community empowerment. This capstone project examines Highline College’s institutional readiness to build a Campus Center for Community Engagement and, from there, explores the feasibility of achieving that vision, cataloging its potential opportunities, challenges, and next-step recommendations toward eventual implementation.