Metis Associates, in partnership with the Center for Research and Evaluation on Education and Human Services (CREEHS) at Montclair State University, was selected in 2017 to conduct a 2-year evaluation of the South Ward Community Schools Initiative (SWCSI). The evaluation, which includes formative and summative components, is designed to document the successes, challenges and lessons learned, and assess the impact of the initiative on key student, family, school, and community outcomes. 

The South Ward Community Schools Initiative (SWCSI) is a collaborative partnership between the Newark Public Schools (NPS) and the City of Newark. SWCSI began in 2015 as a school transformation strategy designed to address the barriers that prevent students from reaching their full potential.

Five South Ward schools—Avon Community School, Belmont Runyon, BRICK Peshine, Malcom X Shabazz High School, and Spencer Miller—were selected, through a rigorous competitive process, to transform their schools into community schools. After an intensive planning process, the schools began full implementation during the 2016-17 school year.