Date of Submission
As Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) takes its place among the nation‟s top 50 public research universities, our guiding principles have been an abiding focus on student success at all levels, unparalleled innovation through research, and a university-wide commitment to human health, and engagement and empowerment in our communities. To that end, VCU has named community engagement as a key focus area in its strategic plan with the aim of developing collaborative university-community partnerships that yield creative and relevant solutions for community-identified needs. These mutually-beneficial partnerships not only support the public good, but they also support our mission to advance knowledge and student success through teaching and learning, scholarship, and outreach efforts.
The Council for Community Engagement (CCE) Grants is one way that VCU supports the development of sustainable, mutually-beneficial partnerships. Under the direction of the vice provost for community engagement and the vice president for health policy and community relations of the VCU Health System, the Council provides oversight for the CCE Grants. The CCE projects are designed to enhance and increase university engagement with the community and contribute to community-engaged scholarship. One-year seed grants of up to $20,000 are awarded to proposals that demonstrate the involvement of faculty and students, address community-identified needs, and demonstrate substantive collaboration with at least one community partner.
Over the past 7 years (2007-2014 grant years), $581,871 has been awarded to fund 51 community-based scholarship projects, which have involved 107 faculty from 19 academic and academic support units, representing 68 different departments and over 76 community partners (Appendix A). These projects have largely focused on improving health & wellness (34%), education (26%), environmental sustainability (14%), positive youth development (14%) and other (12%).
This evaluation examined the impact of the seed grant program from 2007-2012 grant years (2007 – 2011 calendar years) from the perspectives of the community partners, PIs and students. Two overarching questions guided this evaluation: 1) do the grants facilitate successful community-university partnerships, and 2) can seed grant money be a catalyst for long-term partnerships. Although not included in the current evaluation, it is worth noting that two recently funded (2012-13) CCE grantees have already demonstrated successful impact. VCU‟s School of Nursing recently received a $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services to expand the CCE grant, “Community Health and Wellness Program for Older Adults”. In addition, the “CMoR Learning: Developing Interdisciplinary Partnerships for an Inclusive Learning Community” CCE grantee has been ranked in the nation‟s top 10 as a model for children‟s learning museums.
Is Part Of
VCU Division of Community Engagement