University & Community Partnerships

Democratic Devolution: How America’s Colleges and Universities Can Strengthen Their Communities

Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges

In a policy memo from the Progressive Policy Institute, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania call on government to increase its support fo partnerships between communities and institutions of higher education. Given the immense resources available to colleges and universities, these anchor institutions have the potential to ground civic partnerships working to revitalize local communities. To do so, they must change their organizational structures and make civic engagement a core principle across all levels of the institution.  The federal government, by targeting existing resources, directing financial incentives and mobilizing the bully pulpit, can help catalyze this shift.

Researchers Propose Federal Strategy to Engage "Eds"

Five recommendations to encourage universities and colleges to adopt an anchor institution mission
Earlier this month, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges, of the Netter Center of Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, released a Progressive Policy Institute paper calling for one type of anchor institution - universities and colleges - to contribute more to the public good.

University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is part of the University’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and partners with Rhode Island’s Agricultural Experiment Station. The program assists community members to improve their lives by extending University-based research to benefit families, farms, and the environment. Although they offer a variety of specialties, the Sustainable and Nurturing Communities program offers a Youth Development Program, 4-H, which provides hands-on learning activities such as, animal and veterinary projects or science and technology camps, which provide the communities’ youth educational experiences so they might become productive citizens.

D'Abate Community School

Led by Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service, teachers and administrators from the D’Abate Elementary School in Olneyville partnered with staff and students from Brown to develop and staff an after-school program that provides extra academic activities for children from households that earn less than $30,000 a year.  The program involves over 200 elementary students and over 150 Brown students through the school year as well as a five-week summer session.  The Rhode Island Department of Edu Read more about D'Abate Community School...

A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future

The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

In this report, the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement challenges America’s universities to embrace their responsibility to rebuild and renew civic learning and democratic engagement.  A national student assessment found that students’ perception of whether their university promoted awareness of important social, political, and economic issues declined from an already low 45 percent of first year students to just 38 percent of fourth year students.  The Task Force calls for colleges across America to expand education services to hone students’ civic knowledge, skills, values, and actions that will prepare them for lives and careers as public servants.  If universities embrace reciprocal partnerships with communities, socially responsible businesses, and governmental agencies, their research, teaching, and learning can benefit students and the community, while replenishing civic capital.

Community-Based Participatory Research: A strategy for Building Healthy Communities and Promoting Health through Policy Change

Meredith Minkler, et. al.

PolicyLink, partnering with the University of California’s School of Public Health, released this paper, which promotes participatory research as a critical component for community-driven effort to improve health and foster policy-level change.  Drawing on eight best practices from around the country and from six case studies from California, the paper demonstrates how community-based participatory research (CBPR) works to improve community well being. One promising CBPR practice is asset identification, where communities identify and validate their own strengths and capabilities to better address community problems or concerns.

Evaluating Community-University Partnerships

Kenneth M. Reardon
Communities and Banking

Community groups are finding partners in local colleges and universities to fight deindustrialization, suburbanization, and disinvestment.

Courses in Courage

Richard A. Couto

Today, efforts are under way at a number of universities to promote community engagement. In developing these efforts, current activists would do well to learn from the experiences of a previous generation of similarly minded scholars at Antioch University in Ohio. Edited by Richard Couto, a founding member of Antioch's Ph.D. "Leadership of Change" program, Courses in Courage includes essays by six Antioch professors who, starting in the McCarthy years of the 1950s, helped make Antioch College a national center of an activist scholarship deeply rooted in social goals and values.


The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads

Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb

Authored by Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb as part of Michigan State University Press' series on Transformations in Higher Education, the book features ten in-depth cases and examines how universities, by pursuing an anchor institution mission to improve surrounding communities in cooperation with community partners, can positively impact the welfare of low-income residents.

University of Baltimore, Community Development Clinic

The Community Development Clinic of the University of Baltimore provides a wide variety of legal services to and advocacy for historically under-served communities in Baltimore. Students assist community associations, non-profit organizations, and small business owners with the legal aspects of formation, operations and financing, land use, real estate acquisition, and other matters.  Projects include representing community associations in negotiations for a community development plan, drafting and advocating state legislation to remove a legal impediment to the development of permanently affordable homeownership opportunities in Maryland, and helping a nonprofit organization acquire vacant land from the City.

Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute

Established in 2000, The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute (UHI) aims to bring the resources of the Johns Hopkins institutions to the City of Baltimore, and especially East Baltimore (the community in which its medical center is located), to improve the community’s health and wellbeing.  To do so, its core programming focuses on building collaborations between Hopkins and the city around research, community projects, program planning/implementation and evaluation, and knowledge sharing and education.  It also runs a small grants program to stimulate community-university collaborations focused on advancing the health and wellbeing of area residents.

University of California San Francisco (UCSF) University Community Partnerships Office

Established in 2005, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Community Partnerships Office works to improve quality of life and promote health equity by cultivating, sustaining and advancing strong collaborative partnerships between the University and local communities.  The Office functions as a bridge between UCSF and local communities, emphasizing partnerships that value and respect the assets and diversity of both.  It is led by a Council, which includes 12 UCSF and 12 community representatives.  As part of its work, the Office also awards small seed grants to support collaborative projects that promote civic engagement, foster community well-being, and enhance the environment for research, education, patient care and employment.

Office of University Partnerships

Created in 1994, the Office of University Partnerships, operated by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, manages programs designed to support university community development efforts, including the Community Outreach Partnership Center program. Its web site has a host of materials regarding university community partnership efforts. Read more about Office of University Partnerships...

National Sea Grant Office

Environmental stewardship, long-term economic development and responsible use of America's coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources are at the heart of Sea Grant's mission. Sea Grant is a nationwide network (administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, of 30 university-based programs that connect universities with coastal communities. Read more about National Sea Grant Office...

National Conference on Race & Ethnicity In American Higher Education (NCORE)

Attended by over 1,800 participants a year, the annual NCORE conference promotes the creation of inclusive higher education environments, programs, and curriculum; improved campus racial and ethnic relations; and expanded opportunities for educational access and success by culturally diverse, traditionally underrepresented populations. Read more about National Conference on Race & Ethnicity In American Higher Education (NCORE)...

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

A program of the U.S. Department of Education, NCES is the primary federal entity responsible for collecting and analyzing data that are related to education in the United States and abroad. The web site makes available a broad range of information and reports on educational institutions and issues at both the university and K-12 level. Read more about National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)...

The Milwaukee Idea

The Milwaukee Idea is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's initiative to forge vital and long-lasting community-university partnerships. Started in 1999, the initiative has led to the expansion of service learning efforts, partnerships with local K-12 schools, and university participation in affordable housing development. Consortium activities include economic development projects, action-oriented research, and entrepreneurial training to help emerging and established entrepreneurs gain critical business skills. Read more about The Milwaukee Idea...