As part of its ongoing effort to help member institutions magnify their economic impact, APLU recently announced finalists for its 2019 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 post, APLU spotlights California State University, Northridge and Purdue University, finalists in the “Place” IEP Awards category, for their outstanding work resulting in social, cultural, or community development. One of the finalists will be named the Place category award winner Sunday, November 10 in San Diego, California during the APLU Annual Meeting.
California State University, Northridge (CSUN) created a host of programs driving social, cultural, and community development. Recognizing that many students from a local high school in a low-income area weren’t planning on attending college because they didn’t have the experiences and tools necessary to do so, CSUN surveyed the community to determine how it could increase college enrollment and attainment. Faculty visited nonprofits and schools, talked to community leaders, and mapped out the neighborhood’s assets and social challenges.
As expected, their review determined that financial issues were the biggest barrier to college access and CSUN launched the Bridge to the Future (B2F) program to address them. The program provides a four-year, tuition-free education to a cohort of students from the school district. CSUN also educates families about accessing financial aid and navigating the university’s policies while providing a range of mentoring and support activities. B2F students are expected to give back to their communities by participating in service activities and mentoring younger students.
The first cohort in 2017 was comprised of 28 students earning an average GPA of 3.40. The second cohort in 2018 is comprised of 25 students who earned an average 3.1 GPA. As new cohorts are launched, CSUN is aiming to have 100 students per year in the program.
Purdue University launched its Center for Regional Development in 2005 to deepen its economic engagement across the state and region. The center leads a variety of initiatives to address the unique needs of each community it works in and spur development across the state. Partnering with Ball State University, the center’s Hometown Collaboration Initiative works to grow local capacity in leadership and economic placemaking.
The effort has worked with 19 Indiana communities, leading to the development of community parks, entrepreneur resources, and neighborhood revitalization. The effort places particular emphasis on sparking civic spirit in the state’s rural areas. It has recruited 400 Hoosiers to serve on local coordinating committees and drawn more than 1,200 residents to community forums. The effort has resulted in 12,000 hours of volunteering.
The Purdue Center for Regional Development also conducted the most exhaustive study ever undertaken on the benefits and costs of providing broadband to households in rural Indiana. The study prompted Governor Holcomb to pursue a $100 million investment to expand broadband to unserved areas of Indiana. The center has teamed with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to develop and implement Rural Broadband Planning Grants.