Washington, D.C. — In recognition of their extraordinary community engagement initiatives, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today announced that four of its member universities have been selected as regional winners of the 2020 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. As regional winners, the University of Memphis, The Ohio State University, the University of Utah, and the University of Vermont will compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be announced in November.
The C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award includes a sculpture and $20,000 prize. The three other regional winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.
Since 2007, 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 deepen their partnerships to achieve broader impacts in their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005. The three other regional winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000 to further their engagement work.
The community engagement awards also include a class of exemplary designees. The University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Louisville, Purdue University, and Virginia Tech are all exemplary designees receiving recognition for outstanding efforts. All institutions will be showcased at the virtual 2020 Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Annual Conference in October.
“Amid the pandemic, the nation’s public universities have risen to the challenge to meet their communities’ needs in a major way,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “That community engagement is at the heart of their mission and we’re thrilled to elevate institutions that have a longstanding commitment to being at the forefront of community engagement efforts. We congratulate this year’s Magrath Award finalists and exemplary designees for a job extremely well done and for their ongoing work in support of their communities.”
A team of community engagement professionals from public research universities judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2020 National Engagement Scholarship Conference.
Background on the regional winners
University of Memphis
Working with a host of community partners, the University of Memphis (UofM) Institute of Interdisciplinary Memphis Partnerships to Advance Community Transformation (iIMPACT) recognized the need to address issues of childhood trauma and improve families’ access to supportive services that improve health. Harnessing the university’s research capacity and student desire for applied experiences, and enlisting the guidance and support of community leaders, iIMPACT developed a set of programs and services that address a wide range of health and socioeconomic issues facing local families. Together these organizations have worked to address childhood asthma, expand access to autism services, support young children’s social-emotional development, improve parenting skills, respond to families’ medical and legal needs, and connect families to community resources. The efforts have yielded: improved childcare center capacity to promote child resilience; reduced the effects of physical and emotional childhood trauma; and increased early-learning professionals’ skills in promoting young children’s social-emotional development; increased connection to and support for families affected by poverty, violence, or trauma; and increased access to legal resources for families with young children. Students, meanwhile, have gained valuable insights about conducting applied community research as well as about the needs and strengths of our local community.
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University’s Learning in Fitness and Education through Sports (LiFEsports) Initiative’s mission is to prepare youth for life and leadership through sports. LiFEsports’ goals directly align to Ohio State’s impact areas and include: providing quality sport-based positive youth development programming, especially to youth from vulnerable circumstances; preparing and training tomorrow’s sport-based youth development workforce; and researching and promulgating best practices. Since 2008, LiFEsports has addressed the ever-changing needs of the community’s youth. More than 8,000 low-income youth between six and 18 years old have participated in the LiFEsports summer camps, year-round sports clinics, and youth leadership academy. Annually, an average of 160 college students from more than 20 different majors and several universities complete internships, paid employment, research, classwork, and volunteer experiences. More than 20 journal articles, book chapters, and proceedings have been published through the program and more than 50 research papers, posters, and workshops have been presented.
University of Utah
The University of Utah partnered with Salt Lake City’s west side neighborhoods to form University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) to advance hyperlocal community engagement. UNP convenes university faculty, staff, and students, west side residents, and local organizations and institutions to address resident-identified priorities in education, leadership, and community capacity and wellbeing. These priorities, gathered through a year-long research project, became the blueprint for UNP. One UNP-supported effort, the Westside Leadership Institute, has aided hundreds of residents in building leadership and organizing skills, designing projects addressing local issues, and starting community-based organizations. Another, the UNP Hartland Partnership Center (Hartland), is a hub where the university, organizations, and community leaders collaborate on culturally responsive, resident-led neighborhood services and educational opportunities. UNP-supported efforts have contributed to the education of thousands of students; increased access to higher education for residents; disseminated knowledge through hundreds of academic, practitioner, and community-oriented products; and increased the capacity of communities to define their own future.
University of Vermont
Over the last decade, a significant number of refugees have resettled their lives in Vermont. Often these individuals have experienced trauma with far-reaching effects impacting not just a given individual, but even their extended families and communities. In response to the mental health needs of Vermont’s expanding community of refugees and in a close partnership with the refugee community, UVM’s Connecting Cultures was established in 2007 to serve refugees and survivors of torture. The Connecting Cultures clinical-science specialty service uses a multidisciplinary, evidence-based model of mental health intervention. The program has served over 1,000 refugees and survivors of torture. Connecting Cultures’ research with Vermont’s refugee community also led to six peer-reviewed publications, over 100 local, national and international presentations, a Tedx Talk and a language-free mobile mental health application for refugees. Graduate and undergraduate students are engaged in Connecting Cultures through research, practicums, and internships. Students also participate in multi-disciplinary teams with psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, attorneys, and refugee advocates. Faculty and partners share the outcomes of the service, outreach, teaching and research through a variety of outlets, including the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs and the Association of Psychology Training Clinics with the goal of improving mental health services for refugees and survivors of torture across the country.
Background on the exemplary designees
In 2016, University of California, Los Angeles Professor Lytle Hernandez co-founded the Million Dollar Hoods (MDH) research initiative with a coalition of partner organizations. The initiative initially created maps to visualize how much is spent per neighborhood on incarceration in Los Angeles, highlighting communities where authorities are spending millions of dollars annually to jail residents, identifying them L.A.’s Million Dollar Hoods. The MDH initiative has gone on to produce rapid-response research reports examining emerging trends in local policing, as well as policy memos and white papers to respond to emerging issues identified by community partners. MDH research demonstrates the impact of mass incarceration on Black life while exemplifying the transformative power of Black-led and Black-focused data analysis. This collaborative, community-engaged scholarship supported the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in voting down a new jail and instead approving a plan to invest in alternatives to incarceration. Similarly, MDH research prompted the LA Unified School District to change harmful policing practices.
University of Louisville
Recognizing the urgent need to fill a lack of medical care for uninsured workers in the horse-racing industry, the University of Louisville School of Nursing partnered with a local non-profit to form the Kentucky Racing Health Services Center. The center reaches so-called backside workers in the racing industry, primarily at Churchill Downs. The workers and their families are primarily low-income, non-English speaking, Latinx immigrants with no other means to access healthcare services. University of Louisville School of Nursing faculty nurse practitioners provide
primary care, women’s health, and mental health services at the center. Students also gain internship experience through the program, while evidence-based research projects have yielded changes in practice, improved culturally competent care, and patient education. Last year, the center had 1,500+ patient encounters, providing essential care to the uninsured.
In the developing world, millions of farmers cultivating cereal for food and income can lose one-third of their grains from insect damage. The loss can lead to food insecurity and economic devastation. As a result, many farmers are forced to sell grain harvest, when prices are low. To help address this problem, agriculture faculty at Purdue University developed the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) in collaboration with Africa-based scientists. The PICS technology is a triple-layer sealed plastic bag that cuts off the oxygen supply to insects through a hermetic seal, eliminating insect damage during grain storage. Since 2007, more than 7 million farmers have been taught how to use PICS bags in about 60,000 villages, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. PICS is dedicated to changing lives through fighting hunger and stimulating economies. PICS has spawned PICS Global, a start-up company working with more than 23 manufacturers and distributors to expand its markets in new and existing countries. This self-sustaining network promotes economic development and creates jobs within each region. PICS bags were initially disseminated in 10 countries in West and Central Africa, and then expanded to more than 35 countries in East and Southern Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The private sector, including plastics manufacturers and inputs distributors, have produced and sold more than 20 million PICS bags. In the 2018 harvesting season alone, 5.3 million bags were sold globally.
Seeing a gaping void in autism services in the rural southwest part of the state, Virginia Tech created the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research to provide desperately needed care to those in need. The clinic, one of the only autism specialty clinics and research centers in its region of Appalachia, empowers individuals touched by autism through education, evidence-based services, and research. Partnering with Mount Rogers Community Services Board, the clinic convened focus groups in six rural counties on needed autism services. Leveraging the findings, the clinic expanded its reach further into rural regions with an innovative method to provide autism services through a mobile autism clinic. In spring 2018, trained student clinicians began offering sliding-scale therapeutic services every through the mobile clinic. With a growing waitlist for services, Richmond-based CA Human Services agreed to expand the mobile clinic’s reach in southwest Virginia and funded the mobile clinic’s diagnostic assessments, allowing student clinicians to offer free assessments and parent education. The project’s research has been published in the Journal of Appalachian Health and presented at multiple regional, national, and international meetings. Annually, the Blacksburg home clinic serves about 60 individuals with autism (and their families) with therapy and support and provides diagnostic assessments to about 50 more. Since June 2018, the mobile clinic has traveled more than 7,600 miles, served 25 families in more than 110 appointments.