Building Infrastructure for Meaningful Partnership

by Ashleigh Ross

Students in Inter-HE 504 (1) during the CUE Pilot Year after presenting their findings in front of the South Park Street partners (CUE,2010)

One of CUE’s functions is to coordinate overlapping efforts to avoid duplication and help streamline large, complex projects.  With a university the size of the UW, it is often difficult for professors, students and staff to find each other in order to collaborate and amplify their work.  The result can be that nonprofit organizations get overwhelmed with partnership offers, and residents can suffer from research fatigue from having participated in similar studies numerous times.  CUE is creating that infrastructure to store previous reports and project information so future initiatives can build on existing work, and focus on community-initiated priorities to ensure real benefits for community partners.

The CUE pilot in South Madison is an example of how this can work.  Although the UW, via Campus-Community Partnerships and individual faculty, had been involved with the South Park St. area for many years, no organizing body was keeping track of the multiple and disparate partnerships.  When CUE first became involved with South Park St., our staff met with academic and community representatives to identify work that had already been done, for example “food desert” mapping, so that project teams could build on past research instead of replicating studies.  CUE also coordinated the efforts of all students working with South Park St. to have them present work to community members at the same time.  This allowed community members the opportunity to learn about a range of projects at one time, and demonstrated to all participants ways to work collaboratively in the future.  Due to the success of the pilot, community partners agreed to expand in several areas.

The following stories are about the CUE projects added in 2011-2012. ■

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Community Leadership and Community-Based Evaluation

by Ariel Kaufman

Community collaboration is an iterative, organic process. Many times decisions that affect community wellness, economic vitality and cultural diversity of a community occur without direct involvement of those affected.  South Madison neighborhoods and community organizations are working to broaden and deepen the level of engagement of those stake-holders.  Students, residents, and organizations can develop leader capacities and relational leadership to ensure families and communities have a voice in their own destiny.  In this process, students and institutions also learn from the cultural histories and community assets of South Madison.

Two courses in the Community and Nonprofit Leadership major were offered to help students develop relational leadership skills.  Following the CUE Pilot Year,  Dr. Margaret Nellis and I collaboratively facilitated Inter-HE 560: Community Leadership in fall 2011 and Inter-HE 570: Community-Based Research and Evaluation in spring 2012.  A total of seven projects in 2011-2012 were designed with community-based organizations in the South Metropolitan Planning Council’s area.  All used events and activities to build relational leadership.  These courses initiated inquiry across projects to explore: how do community practitioners use events to develop and deepen engagement?  How can community practitioners use events to help develop collaborative leadership?  More details about each community project will be presented in the next issue of CUE Newsletter.

Having facilitated these courses and different projects, we were able to refine our model in promoting student learning and community social change.  In collaboration with community partners, we developed four effective strategies to identify priorities, communicate regularly, collect relevant information, and deliver usable results (Figure 3). We also learned language matters (Figure 4) to our community partners, and so we worked to develop and use language that resonated more deeply with them to increase the effectiveness of the partnership. ■

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CUE Pilot Year

by Ashleigh Ross

How to build a Science Shop model for Madison? UW professionals and graduate students, interested faculty and community partners all agreed that the CUE pilot stood a better chance of succeeding if built on a strong established relationship. We considered a decade of sustained partnership between the UW- Madison and the South Park St. area to be an ideal model. Community representation included South Metropolitan Planning Council (SMPC), Park Street Partners, South Madison Farmer’s Market, and the Boys and Girls Club and Dane County. CUE affiliates on campus and community organizations from this economically, ethnically, and culturally diverse area had long- standing connections. Dr. Margaret Nellis and Ariel Kaufman had both been involved in a program called Campus-Community Partnerships (CCP) out of the Office of the Chancellor. CCP was a collaborative effort among higher education institutions and S. Park St. community development organizations. It had lost UW-Madison funding and its stakeholders reached out to CUE to fill the gap.

A section of South Park St. taken from a shoe repair store that has existed since 1938 (University Communication, 2005)

The pilot had two main goals: (1) to create an infrastructure for partnerships that would provide opportunities for community groups to access the UW with specific issues and problems; and (2) to work on actual community-based participatory research (CBPR) in a collaboration between the university and the community.

These two goals were translated into a two-semester plan: a CBPR needs assessment and curriculum development in fall 2010, and a Special Topics CBPR seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies (IS), School of Human Ecology, approved by Chair Cynthia Jasper, “Community-University Exchange: South Madison.” as “home base” in spring 2011. The fall activities defined specific research questions, developed a research plan, and collected and analyzed some preliminary data following the guidelines indicated in the Community Identified Priorities (CIPs, Figure 1). The class provided an effective and efficient mechanism for incorporating students into CUE, by channeling students with interdisciplinary backgrounds and skills into project teams. These were complemented by other service- learning classes, all orchestrated by CUE’s planning team.

During this one-year process, CUE staff, community stakeholders, and students collaboratively identified three top community issues that we had capacity to address: [1] economic vitality of South Park St., [2] image/perception of stigma of the area, and [3] healthy food access and nutrition education.

The students in the CUE: South Madison class worked on a community-driven project with the SMPC to address the misperception by many in the city of South Park St.’s attributes. With assistance from Professor Hemant Shah of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the course conducted a media bias study, exploring whether anecdotal evidence that the mainstream print outlets were prejudiced in their coverage was supported by quantitative data.

An evaluation of that course was conducted, and results showed satisfaction of students, staff and community participants with how the CUE pilot went and its impact on the community in providing needed research. The model we employed in that course has been institutionalized as part of the curriculum in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, and is now a required course for all Community Nonprofit Leadership majors.

Three other groups participated in the pilot:

  • Professor Anna McAlister taught Consumer Science 477, aiding CUE in addressing the CIP of economic vitality. Students interviewed business owners on South Park Street and made recommendations based on their coursework as to how they might attract other students to patronize their businesses. Suggestions such as installing bike racks, promoting free Wi-Fi where offered, and signage visible from a bicycle were ideas that business owners said they greatly appreciated from the student perspective.
  • Dr. Nellis led an independent study with Slow-Food UW interns, who worked with South Madison Farmers’ Market manager Robert Pierce and the Boys & Girls Club to promote healthy eating initiatives for children. This project has expanded and is ongoing (see other article).
  • A capstone internship project with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate program in the Department of Geography contributed assistance with mapping foreclosure data. Common Wealth Development (CWD) and the Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce approached CUE, concerned about how the South Madison community is affected by foreclosures of homeowners and renters. CUE was able to connect CWD with Jeff Becker, a student in the GIS certificate program. With assistance from Matthew Kures of the UW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development, Jeff conducted spatial analysis of Dane County foreclosure data. The resulting map showed a distinct cluster of foreclosed properties in the South and Southwest Madison area. Further, three of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in all of Dane County are located in the South Madison area: Allied Community, Burr Oaks neighborhood, and Bram’s Addition neighborhood. The CWD hoped to use the visual representation to obtain Federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds to purchase imperiled apartment complexes so the tenants are not dislocated. A full report on how Jeff implemented the GIS analysis is available at the CUE website. ■

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CUE Expands Morgridge Center’s Reach

by Nancy Mathews, Morgridge Center Director

For more than 15 years, the Morgridge Center for Public Service has sought to uphold the Wisconsin Idea—the belief that the boundaries of the university extend to the boundaries of the state and provide university resources for the benefit of the people of Wisconsin. When I became director in 2010, community partners suggested that the Center could help by showcasing the UW-Madison’s extraordinary resources via a clear and visible “front door.”

When discussions about the Community University Exchange (CUE) began in 2010, it was clear that this initiative could create that front door. It could also enhance the Morgridge Center’s ability to advance the Wisconsin Idea and allow the Center to achieve a new level of service to the Madison community and beyond. Now, nearly two years later, after the debut of an pilot and now three more multifaceted projects, CUE has indeed become a “front door” to the university for those who seek joint initiatives to tackle complex social issues.

While some of these projects are highly visible, many are not. Community organizations can more easily find researchers tracking their topics of interest through CUE. At the same time, researchers can use the exchange to seamlessly find community partners.
CUE is poised to amplify engaged scholarship by bringing together faculty, staff, students and community partners. Key ingredients which lead to successful partnerships include the three C’s of engaged scholarship: commitment, communication and compatibility (Stoecker and Tryon, 2009).

CUE has made the Morgridge Center a more direct advocate for community-based learning. CUE supports campus researchers in sharing their expertise and resources while simultaneously learning from communities. Together, authentic and deep learning experiences will be created for students, and community projects will have enhanced impact and build sustainable capacity. ■

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Introducing CUE

by Beth Tryon, CUE Program Chair

Welcome to the first issue of the Community-University Exchange (CUE) Newsletter! The interdisciplinary mission of the newest Morgridge Center program is to connect academic resources with community knowledge to develop sustainable solutions and support social action. CUE is in its second year and growing rapidly. We are thankful for the wonderful collaborative spirit of our current campus and community partners and look forward to expanding that number.

While conducting my graduate research at UW-Madison, faculty mentor Randy Stoecker introduced me to the European “Science Shop” model. Its philosophy resonated with the Madison community in its desire for efficiency of access to higher education resources and for community-identified priorities to drive collaborative projects. Striving to equalize the balance of power lessens the burden of academic partnership for non-profits, while deepening student learning through more authentic relationships. The streamlined coordination of complex projects also supports faculty in 
conducting rigorous research without being overwhelmed by the extra time demands of mutually respectful community partnership.

So in summer 2010, a group of campus and community folks met to explore this structure for democratizing knowledge. I was fortunate to have Morgridge Center director Nancy Mathews provide seed funding for a pilot project in South Madison on a set of community-identified priorities that faculty and students had capacity to address, including bias in the media and healthy food access. Please flip through this newsletter for more detail on all our CUE projects.

The new course created for the CUE pilot is now institutionalized as a requirement for Community Leadership and Nonprofit Development majors in the School of Human Ecology. Since then, we have begun to collaborate on new project areas. Articles by the talented graduate students heading those project management teams follow in these pages. As Phil Nyden, Director of the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola U-Chicago has stated numerous times, “We could never do this without our graduate students!”

We are also involved in several professional development opportunities in community-based pedagogies for graduate students and faculty (stories follow in these pages). We hope that this communication will help to pique your interest – what could you get out of CUE? All faculty, academic staff, students and community organizations are encouraged to inquire. ■

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