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Projects & Initiatives
Shalin R. Jyotishi

Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities

APLU and its Commission on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE) established the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities Program to help higher education institutions codify, elevate, and advance their campus enterprise supporting economic and community development. The designation recognizes institutions that have demonstrated a meaningful, ongoing and substantial commitment to economic and community development, growth, and economic opportunity.

The IEP Universities program helps institutions to codify, elevate and advance their "economic engagement" enterprise which encompasses the many and varied ways universities work with their public-private partners to carry out:

  • Talent and workforce development
  • Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development
  • Place development through public service, outreach, extension, and community engagement

More than 60 institutions have earned this distinguished recognition. IEP University designees complete a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement enterprise that allows them to inventory their true societal and economic impact while identifying strengths and areas of improvement in economic engagement. They exchange ideas, best practices and shared challenges with like-minded peers across North America with a goal of strengthening their ecosystem promoting regional economic prosperity and community development.

Learn more about the IEP Universities Program:

  • IEP University Designation Application Guidelines 

    The first step to formally begin your pursuit of the IEP University designation is to review the guidelines which include full details on deadlines, process, timeline and more. Full details regarding the designation application process, timeline and guidelines can be found here. Institutions pursuing the designation as well as designated institutions are highly encouraged to attend the annual IEP Universities workshop which takes place at each CECE Summer Meeting. Engagement opportunities are also planned during each APLU Annual Meeting.  

    Pursuing the designation as an APLU member institution: The institution’s president or chancellor must send a formal letter of intent to pursue the designation directed to APLU's President (template available on request). Letters of intent are accepted in the fall of every year. Institutions participate in the program through annual classes or "startup cohorts." Through startup cohorts, institutions pursuing the designation have the opportunity to learn and engage with one another through a national network of economic engagement professionals and thought leaders.

    Non-APLU member institutions must submit their presidential letter of intent to the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), APLU's participation partner for non-members. Learn more about APLU's IEP partnership with UEDA. View the APLU and UEDA's IEP partnership overview video.

  • IEP University Awards Competition (for designees only)
    An institution must first earn the IEP University designation in order to be eligible for the awards competition. IEP University Awards are given annually in the categories of Talent, Innovation and Place as well as the top-prize Economic Engagement Connections Award. Awardees are recognized during a special ceremony during the APLU Annual Meeting where they receive a commemorative plaque, along with a certificate, and a logo that can be used in the university’s print materials and websites to promote the institution’s honor. Full details regarding the award application process can be found here.
  • Research around IEP Universities
    APLU encourages scholarship and research around the IEP Universities program. Students and scholars have won grants to conduct research on IEP, leveraged the IEP data corpus to write doctoral dissertations and are working with APLU to bolster the research portfolio around IEP and economic engagement. Interested individuals or organizations should contact Shalin Jyotishi for further information.

Questions regarding the IEP universities program should be addressed to Shalin Jyotishi at The IEP Universities program was developed by APLU's Commission on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE), convening chief economic and community engagement officers as well as presidents and chancellors, provosts, senior research officers, government and public affairs leaders, and other administrators with responsibility for planning, executing, or communicating their institution's work in economic and community engagement. Learn more and join CECE today.