This article describes the collaborative efforts of multiple organizations and individuals in transforming a doomed church in a large urban community into an exemplary public Pre‐k through Grade 2 laboratory school. Central to this emerging facility was the commitment of all cooperating parties to focus upon meeting the educational, health, and social needs of each child through school, home and community involvement. Unique to this collaboration has been the continual involvement of higher education institutions in Western New York in the planning, organization and implementation of this project. Further, infusion of the latest in computer and video technology with distance learning capability supported cross‐fertilization and friendships among higher education professionals and their students from a variety of related disciplines. © 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.