Since 1968, Urban Community School (UCS) has provided an individualized, innovative and challenging education to children living in Cleveland's Near West Side neighborhoods, with a particular focus on serving primarily low-income children. UCS is a fully accredited, non-graded elementary school educating students from preschool (age three) through the eighth level. Founded by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, UCS is an ecumenical school in the Catholic tradition.

Our Journey

The creation of Urban Community School was the result of the dedicated efforts of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, concerned teachers, community activists and two inner city parishes, St. Patrick and St. Malachi. This diverse group realized that the children of Cleveland's Near West Side needed continued access to a quality education in the Catholic tradition. Thus, the two schools merged to form UCS in 1968.

Since that time, UCS has grown to serve over 500 students annually, expanding its work by merging with another parish school, St. Wendelin, in 1976, and continuing outreach into Near West Side neighborhoods to serve low-income children.

UCS is regarded as a model of urban education. The school has received both local and national recognition for excellence and leadership in developing an educational program that helps inner-city children achieve success in the classroom and beyond. In 1987, UCS was the first school in Cleveland to receive the Excellence in Education Award from the U.S. Department of Education (now known as the Blue Ribbon Award).

In 2000, the UCS Board of Trustees unanimously voted to expand the school to continue its tradition of serving more children. Taking advantage of the Gallagher family's generous donation of land at West 48th and Lorain, the new school building was constructed and opened by 2005. This increased enrollment by 20% to 455 students, and provided an inviting, modern setting for learning. Today, as the school continues to expand, it is ironic that many predicted it would close shortly after its founding more than 45 years ago.

Defying the prediction that the school would be out of business within 18 months of operation, Urban Community School is still thriving 45 years later.

Leading the way for the past five decades have been four Ursuline sisters who served as Director of the school and currently, the first President and lay head of the school.

Sr. Mary Dolors Healey, OSU (1968-1972) was one of the founding members of Urban Community School and the driving force for the school in the early years. Her vision became Urban Community School.

Sr. Veronica Smrekar, OSU (1972-1978) helped refine the operations of the school from the business side, creating the backbone of the institution, and instituting organizational systems and operational policies.

Sr. Rose Elizabeth Terrell (1978-1986) became the outward face of Urban Community School. Sister Rose knew the importance of building relationships within the community. She crafted and refined the fundraising process and built friendships with donors that are still intact today.

Sr. Maureen Doyle (1986-2017) Her legacy, the longest to date, will be distinguished by the perpetuation of the longevity of the school, through both the creation of the Endowment Fund as well as through UCS' construction of its own school building.

Tom Gill (2017-Current) is the first President and lay head of Urban Community School. Within Tom's first year, he has already made a positive impact on the future of Urban and we look forward to his guidance and vision for the years to come.

How We've Grown


Urban Community School Founded

1968 - 1976

UCS operates in Former St. Malachi and St. Patrick Schools


St. Patrick School Building Demolished


St. Wendelin Merges with UCS


UCS Receives Excellence in Education Award


Board Votes to Expand School


Construction of New Building Begins



UCS Officially Sponsored by Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland


UCS Incorporated to All Kinds of Minds Program


UCS Accepted into Schools That Can Program