Recipients of the 2021 W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award
Finalists for the 2021 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award
University of California, Los Angeles
Congo Basin Institute
University of California – Los Angeles’s Congo Basin Initiative (CBI) engages 12 academic units across seven divisions and schools to advance research and education engagement in the Congo Basin. Founded in 2015, CBI also serves as a regional nexus and innovation hub in Africa for interdisciplinary research and education, focused on developing solutions to critical issues facing the Congo Basin. The initiative co-creates programs with African academic institutions and local communities, providing an equitable alternative to the historically extractive approach to scholarship in Africa. CBI works with farmers to develop agroforestry systems to reforest degraded land, increase food production using native species, and provide new sources of income. In response to a request from an indigenous community with which the initiative has collaborated for years, CBI worked with elders to develop a School for Local and Indigenous Knowledge to ensure their living knowledge of the rainforest is passed down to younger generations and is used to protect the forest they have called home for millennia. Ideas and projects are spread locally through community meetings. CBI also holds workshops for African policy makers on diverse topics from wildlife trafficking to climate change. Additionally, CBI research has advanced the state of knowledge on the region, producing 40 peer-reviewed articles in the past five years.
University of Minnesota
Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center
The University of Minnesota’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) advances place-based, collaborative scholarly activities to cultivate untapped assets in North Minneapolis neighborhoods. Though these neighborhoods are asset-rich, they have been disproportionately impacted by systems and practices fostering a lack of investment, violence, out-of-home child placement, mass imprisonment, historic trauma, and lost human potential. Working with stakeholders in the community, UROC advances community-identified areas of community health and wellness, education and lifelong learning, and community and economic development. All UROC projects are action-focused and are required to be initiated in collaboration with community partners. UROC also serves as an academic incubator, a transformative research space in which emerging interdisciplinary research on complex societal issues is encouraged. UROC is currently home to 62 academic projects involving 100 faculty from 14 colleges, 398 students, 202 staff, 370 community partners, and over 8,200 community members, and attracts more than 13,000 visitors annually for programs and University-community meetings. The facility itself, a renovated strip mall redesigned with the community, hosts more than 800 University-community meetings each year. UROC publicizes and disseminates its work through a variety of ways, from annual community fairs and open houses to virtual gatherings, in-person and virtual exhibits, research-based presentations, and topic-specific community events and activities.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Center for New North Carolinians
University of North Carolina – Greensboro is recognized for its multipronged approach to increasing access to culturally responsive scholarship and community engagement. Through initiatives such as the Immigrant Health ACCESS Project (IHAP), part of the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC), UNCG has helped create multi-directional pathways of health care access to marginalized communities. IHAP reaches over 700 uninsured immigrant and refugee adults in Greater Greensboro each year. CNNC works primarily in Guilford County, a federally designated refugee and immigrant resettlement hub, where it is transforming refugee and immigrant services as it also transforms understanding and scholarship about the issues facing these communities. CNNC students, faculty, and community research fellows have contributed 25 peer-reviewed publications and over 20 practitioner-oriented publications and reports. In addition, students have completed approximately a dozen undergraduate honors theses or research projects, ten master’s theses/projects, and three Ph.D. dissertations. CNNC, in partnership with its community Research Fellows, is also developing a publicly accessible repository to advance scholarship with and for refugee and immigrant populations in Guilford County. This repository dovetails with larger efforts led by UNCG’s Office of Research and Engagement and partnering units to reposit and share local data through its participation in the APLU/AAU Initiative to Accelerate Public Access to Research Data.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Pioneering Partnerships: Mobilizing Autism Services in Rural Communities
Seeing a gaping void in autism services in the rural southwest part of the state, Virginia Tech created the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic and Center for Autism Research (VTAC/CAR) and partnered with Mount Rogers Community Services (MRCS) to extend autism spectrum disorder assessment, intervention, and education to underserved populations via a mobile unit and, later, telehealth services. The clinic, one of the few autism specialty clinics and research centers in this region of Appalachia, empowers individuals touched by autism through access, education, evidence-based services, and research. With MRCS, the team conducted focus groups with parents and providers across six rural counties in Southwest Virginia. They uncovered the challenges in accessing autism services: limited providers, geographic isolation, and affordability. Findings led the clinic to expand services to these communities with an innovative delivery mechanism, the Mobile Autism Clinic (MAC), a renovated recreational vehicle. The MAC traveled weekly to MRCS locations and offered discounted interventions to families. Annually, the Blacksburg clinic serves about 60 individuals with autism, and their families, with psychotherapies and other support and provides diagnostic assessments to about 50 more. Since 2018, the mobile clinic has traveled more than 7,600 miles and served more than 40 families.
North Carolina Agromedicine Institute
East Carolina University
The agricultural sector is North Carolina’s leading industry. However, agricultural work is dangerous. Its fatality rate is high. Health and safety threats vary by crop and are exacerbated by a transient workforce. Fewer than 1% of healthcare professionals train to handle threats and injuries related to agriculture. These professionals cannot improve health outcomes without understanding underlying issues. The North Carolina Agromedicine Institute (NCAI) is changing that. Anchored and administered by East Carolina University (ECU), NCAI is a partnership between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, and numerous other community stakeholders. NCAI leverages ECU’s strengths in medicine, nursing, and allied health with expertise in agriculture and Extension, led by the state’s land-grant campuses. Community partners include rural healthcare providers, state and federal agencies, commodity associations, insurance companies, and faith-based organizations. The institute identifies issues relevant to fishers, farmers, and foresters, provides feedback on programs, and serves as boots-on-the-ground for NCAI. More than 10,000 individuals are served annually through the effort, including students, agricultural workers, and families, as well as employees of organizations providing services to agricultural communities. NCAI convenes conversations and disseminates community-engaged scholarship relevant to fishers, farmers, and foresters. Community partners laud the institute for success in bringing people together and building bridges between universities and communities.
Nolanville, Texas: Democracy in Action
Texas A&M University
The Texas Target Communities (TxTC) program is a three-decades-old university-wide community engagement initiative of the Office of the Provost. TxTC partners with rural cities, counties, and underserved neighborhoods in urbanized areas to expand leadership and planning capacity. TxTC’s partnership with Nolanville, Texas began in 2014 to assist in developing Nolanville’s first comprehensive plan. With little staff and financial capacity, the small city with roughly 3,500 residents implemented 96 actions, which they attribute to the participatory planning process, and set a precedent for inclusion and action. Community members rallied around a shared vision to stay diverse, take pride in their community, and improve the quality of life for all. The planning process sparked a cascading effect of community participation, leading to new grant awards, action, and success. Partnering with the university, the city then launched an initiative named ENDEAVR to re-envision “smart” city solutions in small towns, with students from a wide range of disciplines participating. For example, they implemented an autonomous vehicle service that is a taxi and telemedicine facility to support low income and disabled residents. Through service-learning and engaged research opportunities, TxTC has facilitated more than 100 community meetings in almost 50 courses with nearly 100 faculty members and 600 students since 2013.