Despite researchers? attempts to understand the underachievement of African American students, the enigma remains (Edwards, McMillon & Turner, 2010). ?This presentation discusses data from a 6-year longitudinal study conducted to improve literacy teaching and learning in urban schools. ?Specifically, teachers from 9 elementary and middle schools spent two summers participating in hands-on professional development at a community center and two churches where neighborhood students attended summer programs. ?The purpose of the summer project was to allow classrooms ?teachers a chance to practice innovative teaching strategies based on newly acquired knowledge from professional?development workshops provided by university researchers and financed by a state-funded grant. ?It was determined that teachers also needed to more fully understand their students? culture and out-of-school learning experiences in order to successfully implement data-driven instruction (Lazar, Edwards & McMillon, 2012). ?Results from data show that teachers developed more in-depth content knowledge and a greater understanding of their students, and thus improved classroom practice. Students received academic support and ultimately, their scores increased. ?The project used a collective impact model approach that included a university-school-resource center-church collaboration that incorporated community role models for the purpose of improving academic achievement.