As part of its ongoing effort to help member institutions magnify their economic impact, APLU recently announced finalists for its 2016 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. The awards honor institutions performing exemplary work to advance the economic wellbeing of their states, regions, and the nation through a variety of efforts. In this final installment in a three-part series, APLU spotlights Montana State University and the University of Massachusetts Lowell, finalists in the “Talent” IEP Awards category, for excelling in community, social, and cultural development work. One of the finalists will be named the Talent category award winner Sunday, November 13 in Austin, Texas during the APLU Annual Meeting.
Montana State University Montana State University has partnered with a variety of Native American tribes to help students gain hands-on experience by providing health care to reservations in the remote reaches of Montana. Crucially, Montana State works with the tribes to identify and then address areas of critical need. For example, life expectancy for Native Americans in Montana is 22-25 years shorter than for White Montanans, in part due to disparities in access to health care. Montana State’s College of Nursing helps its students gain experience by visiting reservations that lack adequate access to health care.
To date, more than 10,000 medical exams and patient visits have been performed through this collaboration. Working with the health programs specialist, nursing students educate the community on prevention efforts for widespread reservation health concerns. The reservation reports that because of this program, children are healthier and show improved academic achievement and decreased school absenteeism
The University of Massachusetts Lowell launched the Community Co-op Scholars in 2011 to help students gain work experience while still in school and spur economic development by addressing the needs of its partner organizations and graduating more skilled and workforce-ready students. Students work with nearly 150 unique employers, both non-profit and for-profit.
Students studying subjects like English, history, psychology, sociology, art and design are clamoring for work experience that fits their passions and their desire to solve our communities’ most pressing problems. Community Co-op Scholars receive a stipend from the University of Massachusetts Lowell to help defray costs of working what are sometimes unpaid positions. Last academic year, over 1,000 students actively engaged and more than 345 students hired for their professional co-op experience.