University & Community Partnerships

University of Dayton’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

Established in 2002, the University of Dayton’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community initiates and sustains partnerships within urban neighborhoods and larger communities to affect positive social change, particularly for poor, disadvantaged, and marginalized populations.  As part of the Genesis Project, —a public-private partnership launched in 2000 to help revitalize one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods—the Fitz Center works with community members to help develop community assets.  Focused on community building, it also trains neighborhood associations, elementary school children, and others in neighborhood asset mapping.  Other key initiatives include applied research, especially projects to support Dayton nonprofits, and educational programs focused on neighborhood revitalization strategies and grassroots leadership development.

Gateways for Incarcerated Youth Alumni Survey

Emily Sladek, Laura Coghlan, John Lanning and Cindy Meyer
The Evergreen State College

This publication, co-authored by Democracy Collaborative Research Assistant Emily Sladek, constitutes a survey of former students from the Gateways Evergreen College Class from the years 1997-98 through 2009-10. Gateways is "a culturally responsive educational initiative that works in partnership with the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) and The Evergreen State College in Washington State":

Conference: Democratic Education, 100 Years Beyond Dewey

February 9th, 2016
High Point University, North Carolina

Our Director of Special Projects Steve Dubb will keynote this conference, which addresses the issue of education, career readiness, and democracy: Read more about Conference: Democratic Education, 100 Years Beyond Dewey...

University of Vermont Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN)

Established in 1995, the University of Vermont Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN) aims to increase the number of women owning and operating profitable farms and agriculture-related businesses, and their profile in leadership positions throughout agriculture.  To do so, WAgN provides education, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to women starting or enhancing farms and ag-related businesses.  It also coordinates The Vermont Farm Women's Fund (VFWF), which provides financial assistance not readily available elsewhere to help Vermont women farmers improve their businesses and/or become more involved in agricultural policy development.

Impact to Last: Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Enterprise

Ben Thornley, Jacquelyn Anderson and Lauren Dixon

In these eight case studies, REDF (a California-based nonprofit, has led the pioneering effort to create jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work) highlights the work of social enterprise leaders around the country. By surveying groups such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, REDF showcases the principal drivers of achieving scale and success, and paving the way towards a more inclusive economy.

A St. Louis organization goes above and beyond providing homes for communities

An interview with Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of St. Louis' Beyond Housing

The killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Fergsuon, Missouri, and the subsequent wave of protests illuminated for a national public the deep racial inequities in greater St. Louis. We sat down with Chris Krehmeyer, head of Beyond Housing, a local community development corporation founded in 1975, to learn about how they've been building a comprehensive approach blending affordable housing, community land trusts, public health, and business development aimed at changing the systems that perperuate disinvestment in African-American communities in the St. Read more about A St. Louis organization goes above and beyond providing homes for communities...

Rutgers University-Newark’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED)

Rutgers University-Newark’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) strives to bring renewed economic growth and vitality to Newark.  Through its Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative, first-generation entrepreneurs participate in monthly classes, intensive training, one-on-one counseling, financial guidance, peer coaching and networking—all designed to help individuals sustain and grow their business.  Now in its seventh year, over 130 local businesses have benefited from this initiative.  The Center also conducts research focused on socioeconomic development and urban, technological, social, and international forms of entrepreneurship.

New Jersey Institute for Technology (NJIT)

One of the first institutions in the U.S. to embrace economic development as a key objective, the Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Technology (NJIT) runs several centers that provide technical assistance to small and medium-sized local businesses.  Established in 1988, NJIT’s Enterprise Development Center is now the state’s largest high-technology business incubator, supporting 90 high-tech and life-science companies.  NJIT’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) provides free technical assistance to small New Jersey businesses aiming to sell to government agencies.  PTAC’s assistance is credited with helping state businesses receive over $2.6 billion in government contracts since 1986.

Near West Side Initiative

The Near West Side Initiative (NWSI) is a community partnership involving Syracuse University, philanthropy, area residents, and civic leaders. Its goal for the disinvested area is fostering economic development, jobs, health, housing, and academic enrichment for both the university's students and those who attend the NWS's public schools. Art and culture play a key role in the priorities of the NWSI as well. Near West Side Initiative is engaged in: Read more about Near West Side Initiative...

University of Rochester

Since 2000, University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education has secured nearly $20 million in grants to support education reform in more than 20 school districts in western New York.  The University also provides nearly $1.8 million in scholarships every year for Rochester City School District (RCSD) students.  Since the program’s launch in 2007, more than 70 City graduates have taken advantage of the Rochester Promise scholarship program, which guarantees any City graduate at least $100,000 in scholarships to attend the University's College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. Read more about University of Rochester...

Rochester Institute of Technology University/Community Partnership (RIT-UCP)

Rochester Institute of Technology University/Community Partnership (RIT-UCP) aims to drive and support neighborhood revitalization while broadening and deepening the educational experience for RIT students.  To do so, RIT-UCP engages in community-based, participatory action research that supports the economic revitalization goals of Rochester's northeast neighborhood and builds on community assets.  For example, in 2013-14, RIT-UCP collaborated with a community-based partner to promote the Westside Farmers Market, a project that increased its patronage by more than 20 percent, increasing resident access to fresh, local produce.  RIT-UCP also led its third “Leadership Institute,” which engaged about 90 community leaders in a weekend-long conference designed to increase their ability take action in their neighborhoods.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Center for Service Learning

Established in 2001, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) Center for Service and Learning (CSL) works to bring together Indianapolis residents with the students, faculty, and staff at IUPUI to improve people’s lives.  As a partner in the Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative (GINI) project, a citywide collaboration for holistic neighborhood revitalization, CSL participates in housing, public safety, beautification, business and economic development, education, health, and civic engagement initiatives that have been identified by the Near Westside community.   For example, a faculty-led student team partnered with Near Westside nonprofit groups to design the expansion of and new building for a community center.  CSL is also recognized as a leader in promoting and supporting community schools.

Tulane City Center

Tulane City Center engages Tulane School of Architecture faculty and students to find design solutions to problems identified by nonprofit and community groups that are under-served by the planning and architecture field.  The group has helped support 80 architectural, planning, historic renovation, and organizational capacity building projects across the New Orleans region.  Over the next several years, the Center plans to focus its work in the Central City area, where, in 2014, it built and moved into a new office space that also includes areas to host community events, meetings, and exh Read more about Tulane City Center...

Not Taking Democracy for Granted: Higher Education, Inclusion, and Community Trust

Nancy Cantor
Speech delivered at conference titled, “Higher Education for Democratic Innovation: Challenges and Opportunities,”

Press Release: Six Universities Partner with The Democracy Collaborative to Develop and Share Best Practices for Measuring Community Impact

Learning cohort will build off the recommendations in The Democracy Collaborative’s report "The Anchor Dashboard"


Takoma Park, MD — November 19th, 2014

The Democracy Collaborative, with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has convened a group of anchor institution leaders from six universities to explore how to better align their operations to benefit the places they call home. Read more about Press Release: Six Universities Partner with The Democracy Collaborative to Develop and Share Best Practices for Measuring Community Impact...

Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR)

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR) provides research and technical assistance to public and non-profit organizations in many areas, including strategic planning facilitation, survey research, and neighborhood analysis and mapping. Its goal is to help communities and organizations develop practical visions for the future, measure outcomes to demonstrate impact, use data to promote positive change, and interpret complex information. Read more about Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR)...

Fostering the Power of Universities and Hospitals for Community Change

New federal policy strategies can help cities leverage the economic might of their anchor institutions to benefit communities

Crossposted from blog - a project of the Half in Ten Education Fund, a project of the Center for American Progress.

Communities across the country are recognizing the tremendous resources nonprofit anchor institutions—such as hospitals and universities—can provide as engines of inclusive and equitable economic development. Increasingly, cities—often led by Mayors—are launching comprehensive strategies to leverage these institutions to address challenging problems of unemployment, poverty, and disinvestment. In 2014, several cities, including Chicago, Baltimore and New Orleans, have launched community building and job creation strategies that revolve around anchor institutions; and in Cleveland, a decade old collaboration of philanthropy, anchor institutions, and the municipal government continues to rebuild economies in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.