In recognition of their extraordinary community outreach initiatives, four members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) have been selected as regional recipients of the 2015 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. As regional winners, San Jose State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of New Hampshire will represent and compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be presented during the APLU Annual Meeting Nov. 15-17 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award includes a sculpture and $20,000 prize. The three regional winners not chosen for the Magrath award will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.
Since 2006, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have partnered to honor the engagement, scholarship, and partnerships of four-year public universities. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.
“The Magrath Awards reward the significant impact our universities make in their communities, states, and across the nation as well as the world,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “This year’s regional award winners exemplify the broad principles of community-based outreach and engagement embraced by the public university community. We salute each of these model programs that feature students, faculty and administrators working in their community to improve the quality of life for all."
A team of community engagement specialists judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2015 National Engagement Scholarship Conference in September.
Background on the regional winners
San José State University
CommUniverCity San José is a unique community-university-city partnership that engages local residents with faculty and students at San José State University (SJSU) and City staff in learning projects that accomplish neighborhood-defined goals. With nearly one million residents, San José is characterized by vast economic inequality and profound challenges with respect to poverty, unemployment, homelessness, gang violence, and low educational attainment. To address these needs, CommUniverCity creates and supports 50 community action projects annually. Projects range from after-school tutoring and nutrition education to adult financial literacy classes. CommUniverCity’s structure can be described as three legs of a stable stool, with SJSU, the City of San José, and local organizations and residents each providing equal support for project identification and implementation. SJSU’s role in this “town-gown” partnership is threefold. First, faculty members apply subject matter expertise to solve real-world problems. Second, students participate in community-engaged learning projects. Third, SJSU provides financial and administrative support. Over the past decade, this consistent engagement of faculty and students has generated a multitude of short-term studies and longer-term research, including a five-year comparison of social capital indicators within the service area.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University and more than 75 regional partners have been collaborating to revitalize one of the poorest and most underserved neighborhoods in Texas. The East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN) project is a community-based collaboration designed to improve the educational opportunities for children in East Lubbock and ensure both children and parents have access to the resources they need to grow, learn, and succeed. A community action/participatory research model was used to identify the needs of the community and develop evidence-based solutions that empower a community marked by poor school performance, poor health, crime, drugs, inadequate housing, high teen pregnancy and the highest child abuse rate in Texas. In addition to school-centered programs, ELPN has launched family and community programs focused on health, wellness, and nutrition, as well as early learning programs for children ages 0-3. It has made measurable strides toward improving the lives, conditions, and opportunities for East Lubbock residents by creating larger and stronger public/private partnerships and forging trusting collaborations among public service providers and citizens.
University of Minnesota
The Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) represents a 10-year-old strategic alignment between the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County. This alignment focuses on addressing pressing challenges through an intentional connection between local government and academia. This includes academic and community-based research, sharing of academic and practitioner expertise, and providing students with real-world opportunities to apply their academic knowledge. Launched in 2005, the HUP has supported more than 144 collaborations between Hennepin County and the University around issues such as ending homelessness, realizing economic benefits from transit system improvements, eliminating disparities in high school graduation rates, utilizing library services to improve children’s reading skills, ensuring effective management of municipal waste, and providing quality healthcare to low-income residents. These collaborations have generated over $4 million in funding to support the work of university faculty, staff, and students. While focusing on collaborative work around community challenges, the HUP resides within the university's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs and supports scholarly work on the part of university faculty, staff, and students. Faculty have published articles in academic journals and presented their work with Hennepin County at conferences. More than 200 students have gained hands-on experience through capstone projects and internships at Hennepin County.
University of New Hampshire
Founded in 2006 by an interdisciplinary group of five researchers and practitioners, the Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) is committed to ending sexual and relationship violence and stalking through the power of effective researcher-community practitioner partnerships. PIRC researchers and practitioners realize the high costs of violence at both individual and community levels; the limited funds available to prevent and respond to violence; and the resulting need to ensure that our community partners’ investments reduce the incidence and prevalence of sexual and relationship violence and stalking. The partnerships built between PIRC members and community leaders have enabled state agencies and not-for-profit organizations to use findings from evidence-based research to develop groundbreaking solutions to address problems. Findings have been distributed through many different mechanisms, including press conferences and publications aimed at communities, practitioners, and researchers. The community engagement between PIRC and community partners have resulted in PIRC members publishing 55 peer-reviewed journal articles, 10 book chapters, and 18 practitioner-oriented publications and reports. Our students frequently contribute to our research, resulting in 72 undergraduate honors theses or research projects; 26 Masters theses/projects; and 7 PhD dissertations. PIRC’s community engagement extends beyond New Hampshire and includes partnerships with hundreds of colleges, universities, state coalitions, and branches of the U.S. Military.
APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement.