University & Community Partnerships

Belmont University

Founded in 1890 as a women’s college with 90 students, Belmont is now a co-educational Christian university with more than 7,700 students. Belmont has partnered with Nashville’s Metro Board of Parks and Recreation to transform the 24-acre Rose Park into a state-of-the-art community facility with sports fields, a basketball court, a walking track, and a training facility.  Belmont invested over $9 million in the project, and continues to contribute $50,000 a year to support park programming for youth and seniors.  Also committed to diversity and inclusion, in 2015, the University launched its Supplier Diversity Program to ensure its procurement base would better reflect its community.

Higher Education’s Anchor Mission: Measuring Place-Based Engagement

Emily Sladek

Our new report, Higher Education's Anchor Mission, examines how an ongoing—and expanding—effort to track the impact of colleges and universities on the financial and social well-being of their surrounding neighborhoods is helping these anchor institutions align their resources to build stronger community partnerships and create more inclusive local economies.

6 Steps to Build Community Wealth

Anna Birley

This new guide, published by the UK’s Co-Operative Party, outlines the steps needed to develop a community wealth building ecosystem. Aimed at local officials and public-sector institutions, the guide provides information on these steps, from developing leadership to shifting procurement, a background on community wealth building, a case study of this approach in Preston, England, and recommendations for actions localities can take. 


StartUP FIU focuses on nurturing traditional and social entrepreneurship among Florida International University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the South Florida community by supporting the development of new startups, the acceleration of early-stage companies, and the commercialization of groundbreaking technologies. The effort includes StartUP FIU Food, an incubator seeking to help grow food businesses with limited resources and a commitment to job creation. It also includes the Empower Accelerator, a 14-week program that aims to develop scalable ventures by providing entrepreneurs with coaches, skills training, workspace, and related supports.

Atlanta University Center Consortium

Established in 1929, the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) is the largest consortia of African American private institutions of higher education.  Current members include Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College.  Through its CommUniversity, AUCC provides classes and resources to the community focused on financial education, leadership, small business development, and homebuyer education—programs credited with providing technical assistance to 7 small businesses and down payment assistance to 74 residents in fiscal year 2015-16.  It also runs a Community Leadership Development Program to help prepare area residents for leadership roles within their communities.

Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW)

Launched in 1992, the Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW) is a community-focused center that provides planning and design assistance to communities across the state.  Striving to use the design process as a tool for community organizing, empowerment, and capacity building, its work relies on inclusive, broad-based citizen participation.  Recent projects include development plans for several Connecticut towns, a former airport site, and an industrial campus.

Urban Resources Initiative (URI)

Urban Resources Initiative (URI) advances community-based land stewardship, environmental education, and urban forestry. 
Catalyzed by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, URI incorporated as an autonomous nonprofit in 1991 to be as responsive as possible to all of New Haven, not just the university.  Its GreenSkills program provides jobs to high school students and ex-offenders who are paired with Yale graduate students to plant and maintain trees, thereby improving New Haven's street tree canopy.  Its Community Greenspace project provides supplies, technical advice, and training to support the reclamation and maintenance of abandoned land in distressed urban neighborhoods.  Since 1995, URI has completed more than 220 urban restoration projects in partnership with more than 1,000 community members on an annual basis.

Educating for a Changing World: The Importance of an Equity Mindset

Judith A. Ramaley

Our nation’s colleges and universities are being asked to play demanding roles in creating the capacity for active and engaged collaboration and collective action to address complex challenges that are shaping the world we live in. An essential ingredient of any effort to build healthy communities for any purpose, including education, is the cultivation of equity and inclusion. In this article, we discuss what these terms mean in practice and how to draw upon the talents and experiences of all the members of a diverse community in order to understand and address the pressing social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges we face in our communities and around the globe. 

Reviving and Revising the Civic Mission: A Radical Re-Imagining of “Civic Engagement”

Tessa Hicks Peterson

Drawing on literature in the field and the author’s own research, this paper argues that civic engagement is critical to the success of students and universities and should be enacted at all levels of educational policy and practices. Yet, it must be facilitated in a way that ensures that equity, justice, and an appreciation of diverse value systems and perspectives are included in the development of civic actors, civic learning, and shared projects of social change in local communities. 

Working Together and Making a Difference: Virginia Western Community College and Goodwill Industries of the Valleys Partnership Case Study Report

Bill Browning, Meredith Archer Hatch and Marcela Montes
The Aspen Institute

Aspen-WSI initially developed this case study as a learning tool for a US Department of Labor–funded consortium of seven community colleges that feature C2E strategies. Northern Virginia Community College leads that consortium. This report supplements the initial learning tool with information shared by staff of Virginia Western Community College and Goodwill at a site visit by members of the consortium in March 2015 and with additional program data collected and reported in May 2015. 

UW South Madison Partnership

UW South Madison Partnership is a new initiative that aims to connect UW-Madison groups working in the South Madison community, create community-based learning courses, and develop new, equitable, and mutually-beneficial partnerships between UW-Madison and the community.  To ensure community involvement, the Partnership’s programs are based in the Villager Mall, an accessible space close to schools and community centers.  The Partnership also houses UW Law School’s Economic Justice Institute, which works to promote justice and economic security. Read more about UW South Madison Partnership...