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.
This year’s community engagement awards also awards includes a class of exemplary awardees. In addition to the regional winners, the five exemplary designees were named in recognition of their outstanding efforts. Those institutions — Cornell University; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; University of Missouri Extension; New Mexico State University; and University of Nebraska at Omaha — will be recognized at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Annual Conference.
“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 and exemplary award winners contribute unmatched cultural, civic and economic vibrancy to their communities. We applaud 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 2016 National Engagement Scholarship Conference in September.
Background on the regional winners
East Carolina University
American childhood obesity rates tripled over the last decade. Today, nearly 33% of American and 50% of Eastern North Carolina children are overweight or obese. MATCH-Wellness, an interdisciplinary, community-university partnership was created to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. MATCH-Wellness aligns with public school and East Carolina University missions. Since 2007, the MATCH-Wellness partnership has grown from one middle school teacher and one ECU faculty member to include faculty and students from the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center and public school staff from 15 communities at 35 public schools across three states. Since inception, nearly 13,000 students have participated in the MATCH curriculum, preventing an estimated 1,300 cases of adult obesity. In North Carolina, just a three percent shift in adults from overweight to healthy weight would yield $3 billion annual savings. MATCH seventeen year olds, four years after participation in the program, showed 15 percent change to healthy weight.
Pennsylvania State University
The mission of the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness is to foster interdisciplinary applied research and evaluation, implementation science, and outreach efforts that promote the health and wellbeing of military service members and their families. Evidence-based programs and practices improve wellbeing and health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Until recently, the military has been reactive to crises and have rapidly implemented social service programs – many of which lack scientific evidence. Budget cutbacks have also limited the professional training of social service providers. Thus, many practitioners are unfamiliar with evidence-based programs and practices. During its six-year history, the Clearinghouse has developed partnerships with the Departments of Defense and Agriculture and each military service branch. The Clearinghouse’s partners work across the human service and healthcare provision spectrum – providers, clinic directors, program managers, and policy analysts.
Portland State University
Portland State University (PSU) and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) are committed to a multi-faceted partnership that engages faculty and students from a variety of disciplines in education, research and service. The Partnership supports BPS’ mission to “develop creative and practical solutions that enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places, and help plan for a resilient future.” For more than 25 years, PSU and BPS have engaged in this reciprocal relationship. The products, services and materials generated by the PSU-BPS alliance have garnered national and international recognition and support. For example, BPS’ innovative waste management practices are frequently cited as national best practices and the “Smart Cities” work has generated a $50M request for proposal from the U.S. Department of Transportation. If funded, this grant would make Portland a test case for how smart urban transportation systems can reduce carbon emissions and improve equity outcomes. Every facet of the PSU-BPS partnership supports the PSU mission by connecting faculty and students with the larger community in engaged scholarship that leads to applied learning. The PSU-BPS Partnership embodies PSU’s motto “Let Knowledge Serve the City” while exemplifying the unique value of a PSU education.
Led by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University and its partners, Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP) is a national, state, and local collaboration that strengthens the community mental health infrastructure for veterans, military members and their families. Together with the National Guard and the Department of Defense’s Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), MFRI created Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP) to improve the preparation of community-based civilian behavioral health providers to serve military and veteran families. It provides training about military culture, common symptoms, and evidence-based treatments, as well as a publicly-available searchable registry of trained providers. Project impacts include over 75,000 hours of training delivered to over 8,000 community-based behavioral health providers in seven states, more than 86 percent of whom report using program training materials in their work with clients. Scholarly products include project manuals and materials; peer-reviewed articles and chapters; national, regional, and local presentations; congressional testimony; and federal legislation. Multiple funders have supported the program both at the national level and state levels.
Background on the exemplary winners
The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) is a partnership dedicated to providing college-level liberal arts education to qualified incarcerated students in upstate New York prisons. CPEP is a studied response to the lack of access to higher education in America’s prison system. The CPEP model, bringing together community, corrections and students, has the power to change the way America thinks about the role of universities in criminal justice reform. Today’s population in U.S. federal and state prisons is around 600 percent of what it was in 1980, but during this period of mass incarceration the availability of higher education in prison was effectively removed when, in 1994, prison inmates were made ineligible for student financial aid. In the late 1990s, Cornell University professors responded by advocating the return of college programs by volunteering their time. After formally launching a college-in-prison degree initiative with a seed grant in 2007, the Cornell Prison Education Program has grown in leaps and bounds. To date, CPEP has offered 295 classes; conferred 30 degrees; inspired the formation of a Theater Group, which performs works written by prisoners to the surrounding community; prompted the formation of Writers Bloc, a published journal featuring the works of inmates; and launched a debate team that hosts debates against nearby colleges at scheduled events inside the prison The result is a vibrant and transformative academic community in prison that has simultaneously enriched the faculty scholarship and student experience for the Cornell community. Cornell’s holistic approach is a compelling model for addressing criminal justice reform.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Clay County, Kentucky was described by The New York Times as the “hardest place in America to live” based on major health indicators including obesity, infant mortality, and disability. Clean water is hard to come by, devastating floods are common, and mold is ubiquitous. The Appalachia Community Health and Disaster Readiness Project aims to strengthen community wellness while enhancing faculty scholarship and experiential learning at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Faculty, students, and professional staff in nursing, architecture, engineering, and UT’s law enforcement innovation center unite with community experts to co-create innovative solutions. Community-based leadership is provided by Clay County’s Red Bird Mission and Clay County Emergency Management Services, along with local clergy, elected officials, teachers, and law enforcement personnel. The Appalachia Project employs an inter-professional collaborative practice (IPCP) approach, in which members from two or more professions learn with, from, and about each other to enable effective collaboration and better outcomes. Outcomes for the community include completing a replicable water distribution structure capable of providing clean drinking water to thousands of families. Community-based emergency management personnel and local residents have completed Core, Basic, and Advanced Disaster Life Support courses. IPCP teams have identified home safety and health hazards and have begun to address them through replicable, low-cost solutions for repairs or replacement, and mold remediation.
University of Missouri Extension
To address the nation’s aging population, the University of Missouri (MU), in collaboration with Americare Systems, Inc., and community representatives, developed a new model of care and a senior housing facility that allows elders to “age in place.” This new model required legislation to build TigerPlace, a senior living facility, and to officially recognize the Aging in Place (AIP) project. The AIP project was developed with guidance from an engaged community advisory board that included a legislator, from focus groups with older adults, and MU faculty from multiple disciplines. TigerPlace was built by Americare in 2004 in collaboration with MU. Americare manages facility/service operations and the MU School of Nursing provides care to residents. Over 1,600 students from numerous disciplines have had educational experiences at TigerPlace. Faculty have generated over $12 million in research grants focused on technology developed for and with TigerPlace residents, and research has generated 200 publications and conference presentations. TigerPlace is a national model for better, cost-effective care and has been recognized by the American Academy of Nursing. Americare and others have expressed interest in duplicating this model across the country. This private-public partnership has benefited the community, Americare, faculty and students, the residents of TigerPlace and their families, and set a new standard for senior care in the US.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Supporting educational pathways into STEM careers is a national priority, and has been identified as a campus priority at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). UNO is focusing on researching, piloting, and refining “cradle to career STEM initiatives” to improve these outcomes locally and create models for improvement that can be deployed nationally. The key university structure to support community engagement scholarship and related outcomes is the interdisciplinary UNO STEM Leadership Team. This team of 21 faculty members has worked closely with more than 30 community partners and businesses, and is now further establishing a Citywide STEM Ecosystem organization to sustain collaborative efforts that directly addresses Omaha’s STEM education challenges. Results in the last two years have been very encouraging, and include: increased retention rates in STEM classes on campus; expanded teacher training in local P-12 schools; collaborative after-school programs for schools; 32 refereed journal articles (often with direct participation of community partners) related to the scholarship of community engagement; and more than $8 million in federal and private foundation grants led by UNO, including three grants from the National Science Foundation.
New Mexico State University
La Semilla is the only nonprofit organization solely devoted to building a healthy, self-reliant, fair and sustainable food system in southern New Mexico. La Semilla was established in 2010, with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Healthy Kids, $432,680). Activities conducted under this and subsequent grants are focused on four programs: the La Semilla Community Farm, the Edible Education Program, the Farm Fresh Program, and Food Planning and Policy. Over six years, La Semilla has taught hundreds of elementary and middle school students how to grow and cook fresh food while establishing a 14-acre education and demonstration farm in Anthony, New Mexico. La Semilla also works with youth and families to create community gardens, construct greenhouses, and launch educational projects and community food assessments in the El Paso del Norte region on the U.S.-Mexico border. This partnership with NMSU also involves teaching, graduate and undergraduate research projects, and employment placement for anthropology graduates. Anthropology department faculty member Dr. Lois Stanford was instrumental in developing La Semilla’s newest project, Cultivando La Cosecha in the El Paso del Norte Region, funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 2015 Community Food Projects Grant Program ($399,692).