Category: Council on Community-Based Partnerships

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting | September 5, 2018

In attendance: Carol Agomo, Karyn Bowen, Jackie Brodsky, Dee Cook, George Daniels, Jan Findlay, Kimberly Gibson, Andrew Goodliffe, Fran Hardin-Fanning, Elizabeth Hartley, Tracey Hodges, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, Renee Key, Billy Kirkpatrick, Joon Yea Lee, Amanda Lightsey, James E. McLean, Jacqueline V. Morgan, Rob Morgan, Ed Mullins, Jane Newman, Nicole Prewitt, Samory Pruitt, Sarah Saeed, Luna Yang

Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, welcomed attendees and called the meeting to order at 11:43 a.m.

Amanda Lightsey, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place, reported that they have moved from Alberta City and are now located at 810 27th Avenue, behind the Arts & Autism building. She believes this will be a great move for them considering the non-profit growth in the downtown area, and shared that both Five Horizons Health Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters have recently expanded their space and services in this area.

Lightsey said that she, along with Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick (CEO, Five Horizons Health Services) and Dr. George Daniels (assistant dean, College of Communication and Information Sciences) are working together on a project to create a directory of institutions in Tuscaloosa that offer service-learning opportunities. She observed that there seems to be a disconnect between opportunities and agencies, and that the purpose of this directory is to help link University of Alabama professors and their students with these types of opportunities that are available in the community.

Lightsey indicated that they are also focusing on the area of research and evaluation because more and more state and federal grant opportunities require evaluation. She explained that finding an evaluator is often a challenge for non-profits, and their hope is that bridging the gap between agencies needing evaluators for their grants and those who might offer this assistance will make the process much easier moving forward.

Finally, Lightsey reported that Tuscaloosa’s One Place was recently named the Homer Butler United Way Agency of the Year. Learn more at https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20180815/united-way-sets-4-million-goal.

On behalf of Jeff Gray, who was unable to attend the meeting, Pruitt announced that Gray recently received a National Science Foundation grant for the purpose of targeting African-American girls in the state of Alabama in an effort to get them interested in pursuing science-related fields and careers. Gray will provide a report to the Council at a later date.

Pruitt invited those present to share with his office their research interests, as well as opportunities they may be seeking to work with others. Additionally, those new to the Council were invited to share at this meeting.

Anne Levy, UA Theatre and Dance, recently relocated from New York City, where she has done a lot of work with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). She is interested in getting the word out so that anyone who would like to use the power of the arts and theatre to advance their programs might get in touch with her about ways their programs and the Department of Theatre and Dance might partner.

Fran Hardin-Fanning, Capstone College of Nursing, shared that her work is going into areas in Appalachia to help those living there learn to eat healthy with the limited resources of the area. She and Jan Findlay, also of the Capstone College of Nursing, work together.

Jackie Brodsky, who works in UA’s School of Library and Information Studies, as well as at Wayne State University, reported on her activities as a community partner. She is working on an art program through DCH Cancer Center that provides a way for cancer survivors to stay in touch with the Center and stay up to date with current cancer prevention news. She hopes to expand this program into other counties the Center serves in an effort to bring more access to health information available through the Center to additional counties and spaces. They are also working to get their library online to help with resources. Additionally, they are partnering with the UA Art Department and are looking for another school — perhaps nursing or social work — to partner with on these efforts.

Pruitt then shared a brief summary of the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, which began in 2017. He said that when we began these tours, the intent was not to load buses and take people with all the answers to the people who need help. Instead, we take some of our faculty members to hear about the things these people are doing in their communities — things of which they are very proud — to learn how those things might align with the research interests of faculty.

James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), shared an evaluation of the 2018 tour based on survey results including input from faculty, students, staff and community members who participated. Survey questions included three qualitative and three quantitative questions.

James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), shared an evaluation of the 2018 tour based on survey results including input from faculty, students, staff and community members who participated. Survey questions included three qualitative and three quantitative questions.

McLean said participants were surveyed during each day of the tour to get feedback about each tour date. A comparison of the results of the three groups of people — one for each day of the tour — showed no appreciable differences.

The largest participant group was faculty, followed by students and then staff. One hundred percent of the participants rated their experience as a 7 or higher on a 10-point scale, with more than 50 percent giving it a perfect 10. All participants indicated they would recommend future tours to others with 64 percent rating this a 10 on a 10-point scale. The most common response to suggestions for improving the tour was to increase the time for networking among tour participants and panelists.

Community member panelists and site coordinators were also surveyed to parallel the tour members’ surveys. Of the 48 community members participating over the nine sites visited, 17 responded. This was a 35.5 percent response rate, which McLean said is typical for these types of surveys. He said that all nine sites visited were represented in the responses. While all in this group were satisfied with their participation, 90 percent rated their participation as a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. All indicated they are likely to participate again in the future. Responses for improving the tour next year mirrored those of tour participants, with requests for additional time for interaction, as well as representation from more disciplines, with an emphasis on business.

Accordingly, going forward, we will seek ways to find more time for panelists and tour members to spend time together so that they can better connect and discuss opportunities to work together. Additionally, we will seek to recruit participants from more disciplines, especially those with business-related interests, to participate in future tours.

Dr. Tracey Hodges, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, who just completed her first year at UA, participated in the faculty tour this spring based on a recommendation. She said she enjoyed the tour because of the community members, business professionals and education professionals who participated. She also appreciated having the schedule of panelists ahead of time, which allowed her to look up people she might be interested in talking with prior to the tour. As a result, she made a connection with a principal from Hale County regarding literacy needs. She now spends time at Hale County Middle School three to five times each month, working with the teaching professionals there and conducting research. It is a positive relationship that benefits, students, teachers and her own research.

Pruitt indicated that the Division  plans to document and circulate information about these types of connections made as a result of tour participation. Additionally, he said we will distribute the annual report on these tours in the future.

Pruitt then reported on the progress of the planned Student Community Engagement Center, which will be located in Capital Hall on the Bryce Campus. Out of a desire to support the work of our students, faculty and community partners involved in community-engaged scholarship, we looked at national trends and realized that not one of the institutions researched had a designated space for students in different disciplines to work together in the same space at the same time around community-engaged scholarship. The concept for the Center was a result of that realization, combined with input from students and other stakeholders.

Featuring portable design that will create flexibility moving forward, the Center will open with six offices for student organizations that have a research/service mission based on their disciplines, with future expansion planned to create up to a total of 10 office spaces. Student groups known to have an interest in being a part of this based on their activities were contacted initially. The bids were opened in August and the funding is in place for the first phase, which will involve renovation of existing space at a cost of just under $800,000. The goal is for the renovation to be completed in time to open the Center at the start of the spring 2019 semester. In the interim, the selected student groups, along with the colleges of which they are a part, have been asked to begin working together while the renovation takes place. Several of the entities involved include Engineers Without Borders, groups from Social Work, the College of Education, Human Environmental Sciences and the College of Community Health Sciences, as well as the student chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, which created an informative presentation about the new space and its use. They also came up with the tagline: More Than Just A Space.

Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs in the Division of Community Affairs, expanded on how the tagline was formed, sharing that we got here through a process of bringing students together to collaborate, but that when we brought in departments, it opened up additional opportunities. The planned use of the space is consistent with the UA Strategic Plan, including developing social consciousness, fostering public outreach and service and engaging in community outreach. This access will help the way the student groups work and give them an opportunity to strengthen their community relationships. It will definitely be more than just a space!

A question was raised about parking concerns. Pruitt stated there will be a bus stop in front of Capital Hall, which should help ease parking issues in the short term. As expansion on the Bryce Campus continues, there will eventually be additional parking available on the opposite side of the building. He also said that there are no seating areas in front of Capital Hall at this time, but that we may look at ways to add seating to these areas in the future. Additionally, there is a courtyard located in the center of the building, and we will likely do something with that space that benefits the new Center, as well as others housed in the building.

On behalf of Dr. Holly Morgan (CCBP) and Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, (College of Education) Pruitt reported on a grant application submitted by them for the Alabama Statewide Family Engagement Center. Morgan and Wilson work together on the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA), and receipt of this grant would allow that existing model to grow to other areas throughout the state. This is a $6 million grant over five years, and each state is allowed to submit only one application. Our grant application has the State of Alabama’s support. A brief abstract of the grant was shared via a handout at this meeting, and an update from Morgan and Wilson will take place at a future Council meeting.

Dr. James E. McLean reported that we completed the second round of the Winning Grants and Sustainability Program in June, and that the third round (2018–2019) began in August. The third round includes 10 teams with 50 people total and a variety of interesting projects. The program continues to be in great demand, likely because of the success already logged, which totals somewhere between $40 and $50 million obtained in grants, beginning with the first class in 2016–2017. Round 4 is being planned for 2019–2020. In addition to the successful grant funding already obtained, the program is helping people learn to write more competitive grants — a skill that will continue to reap benefits for many years to come. McLean views what we are doing as an incubator, and sees our successes as being when projects and programs get out on their own and become self-sustaining.

Sarah Saeed, program coordinator at CCBP, gave a Fulbright and Global Café/Language Partners Program update on behalf of Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement at CCBP. Saeed shared that there are around 60 Fulbright applications in the works for this coming year and that UA looks to be listed again among the top Fulbright producing institutions in the nation. A handout about students who won Fulbright awards for the 2018–2019 academic year was shared with meeting attendees. Saeed also informed the group that Hawk and some of her students will be attending the national Fulbright conference in Mexico this fall.

Schedule cards for the fall 2018 semester of Global Café were also distributed (also available online at http://ccbp.ua.edu/global-cafe/news/). Saeed explained that through Global Café, UA students and volunteers assist international students with their speaking and listening to aid in English language learning, as well as to learn more about American culture. Additionally, the process is reversed and we utilize international students and visiting scholars to help UA students learning another language or preparing to travel overseas. Five students have already been paired this way for the current semester, and we have also paired 64 language partners with volunteers and CCBP student assistants. In addition to our student staff, we have five community partners and 30 student volunteers who are making a big difference in the lives of international students, and particularly in the lives of visiting scholars who, because they do not attend classes, may receive their only one-on-one American contact through Global Café.

Daniels and UA PhD candidate Joon Yea Lee shared a brief overview of a workshop they will present at the upcoming Engagement Scholarship Consortium Annual Conference in Minneapolis. For this project, which discusses the importance of using video to tell stories, they analyzed and rated the content of the Peter McGrath Awards videos. Each McGrath winner is given two minutes to tell their story via video. The video they played from Oklahoma State University was shared as an example of a production that effectively captured the institution’s brand, its community partner involvement, its activities with partner participation and its inclusion of institutional leadership — all elements that made for a strong presentation. At the conference, they will present a workshop designed to help others learn how to plan and use video to effectively tell the stories of their partnerships.

Pruitt gave a brief update on the upcoming ESC Conference, sharing a handout containing information about the UA delegation to Minneapolis and noting that UA always has one of the largest conference delegations. He said the Division of Community Affairs, the College of Continuing Studies and the Office of Academic Affairs work together to help provide funding to those in need of it to attend. The internal cutoff for conference registration was Friday, Sept. 7. Pruitt also shared that this year’s conference will feature a faculty panel in addition to the existing journal editors’ panel.

Pruitt, on behalf of Morgan, gave information about Vision Days, a newly created high school tours and college readiness program. Noting that often, when we bring high school students to campus, it will be multiple students from a single school, who may or may not all be interested in the topics presented. The Vision Days approach brings students from different schools on different days based on individual interests, providing them with a way to learn more about their areas of interest, as well as to meet other students with similar interests. Because we are competing for in-state students now, we believe this will be a way to aid the University in that effort. A schedule of the tours was provided to the Council.

Attendees were encouraged to save the date for future Council meetings, which are scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday, November 17, 2018, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, February 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, March 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Ferguson Center, Room 3104

The 13th Annual Excellence Awards and SCOPE Showcase are scheduled for:

  • Friday, April 12, 2019 — Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium

Visit http://ccbp.ua.edu/about/council/ for future Council updates.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.


The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

For Second Straight Year, New Faculty Tour of Black Belt Reveals Progress, Challenges in the Region

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

For the second consecutive year, the Division of Community Affairs led a new faculty tour of cities and their landmarks in West Alabama and the Alabama Black Belt Region. In addition to new faculty, many staff and students in the division also attended.

The bus tour allowed participants to explore new places, meet new people and engage with new communities as part of the University’s expansion of its community-engagement capacity and opportunities in the region.

During the first day of a three-day tour, participants visited schools and museums in Eutaw (Greene County) and Greensboro (Hale County) before stopping for a session at Stillman College, a private historically black college in Tuscaloosa with close ties to and common interests with the University.

At each stop, communities shared their success stories, but also identified areas of need in hopes of encouraging UA faculty, staff and students to become more involved with this region.

For example, during a panel discussion at Robert Brown Middle School in Eutaw, Greene County School Superintendent James Carter requested help in developing programs for special needs children, telling the delegation he would appreciate their getting with him after the visit “for any suggestions on how we can better serve our special needs students in Greene Count. We also need help with our struggling students. So, if you have conducted research or have strategies we can use, I would like to hear about them.”

It was mentioned that UA’s Gear Up program was only one of several programs that partner with the Greene County Schools to prepare students for college. Several summer camp opportunities were also mentioned, among them several specifically aimed at students with social or economic hardships. Those include Alabama Summer Computer Camps (July 10–14); Art in Nature Camp (July 24–28); various reading and writing programs (June and July), Multicultural Journalism Workshop (June 2–11); Rural Health Scholars Program (May 28–June 28)’

The tour also provided opportunities for faculty and graduate students to forge new partnerships in other areas. Not only did the tour present scholars with needs, it also provided an opportunity to learn about the history of these rural areas.

In Greensboro, the tour stopped at the Safe House Museum, which was preserved as a museum after the house was used to keep the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. safe from an attack by the Klan during the Civil Rights Movement. The home was owned by Theresa Burroughs’ mother.

On the stop, Burroughs recalled her mother making homemade biscuits for King. “My mother loved to make biscuits, and Dr. King loved biscuits. He could eat four or six,” said Burroughs, explaining that King, Albert Turner and Hosea Williams would call their home from Selma to tell them they were coming over for breakfast. “My mother would start making biscuits. By the time they drove up out there, the biscuits would be ready.”

During the stop at Stillman College, the group not only learned the history of the college, but found out about old and new collaborations. “Over the years, we have had dual degree programs with the University of Alabama,” said Dr. Mary Jane Krotzer, Stillman vice president of institutional effectiveness. She said the two schools currently have an active dual enrollment program, which allows full-time students at either school to enroll in two additional courses at the other school without paying tuition.

UA’s Vice President of Community Affairs Samory T. Pruitt, who is a member of the Stillman Board of Trustees, said the tour allowed him to see ways in which new collaborations can be started and others renewed and sustained.

“I’ve heard some of the discussions and we may not have anyone in the room today who is interested in every area that was mentioned, but we are capturing the discussion from this session and we will share it with those with similar interests when we return to campus,” Pruitt told the panelists at Stillman.

Most tour participants were seeing the Black Belt for the first time. However, a few were familiar with the areas and even the tour itself. “This was a really rewarding experience the first year,” said James Gilbreath, an instructional and reference librarian at Gorgas Library who has been at the University for three years. “This year, I’m here to give context to new faculty members.”

 

DAY 2, Thursday, May 10

On Day 2 of the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour the group of nearly 40 faculty, staff and students traveled to Carrollton, Ala., in Pickens County, to attend a panel discussion at Pickens County College and Career Center.

Here, panel members included representation from Whatley Health Services Inc., Pickens County Family Resource Center and Pickens County Community Action Committee and Community Development Corporation, Inc.

Although UA already has partnerships within the county, many of the new faculty members and graduate students were unfamiliar with the services offered in senior, food and family services, childcare and education.

“At the Family Resource Center we work with two demographics; one is the elderly. We manage the senior care facilities throughout the county,” said the Rev. Rodney Shamery. “We serve lunch and provide activities to the elderly in the community. The second group we serve is young people and their parents.”

Shamery, who coordinates the Fatherhood Program funded by the Children’s Trust Fund, discussed the STAR (Students at Risk) Program and the services its two locations provide to families in need.

“We help at-risk children learn the social and cognitive skills they need to be successful,” he said. “We also work with non-custodial parents to help them renew their relationship with their children. We teach them how to interact with the other parent, work with them to find employment and teach them the soft skills they need to maintain employment.”

From there the group traveled to Sumter County, where they visited the Livingston Civic Center for a panel discussion.

“I live in a town where incomes are very limited. So I want to bring people to the table,” said community activist Lovie Burrell-Parks. “I started a monthly community needs assessment that has gotten people talking about what they want to see in the community.”

Based on this needs assessment, Burrell-Parks will operate a five-day summer camp for children and their parents. “This will bring people from Panola and surrounding areas together,” Burrell-Parks said.

Like Burrell-Parks, the Rev. Bob Little, pastor of Galilee Baptist Church in Panola, has been involved in his community. Each summer for the last eight years, his church has conducted a six-week vacation Bible school.

“We teach our children oration, song, memorization, music and writing. We average about 25–30 kids and most of our kids have been on the A-B Honor Roll for the last five years,” Little said. “We teach them things that will help them be productive and successful. We have members who now write their own books.”

Additionally, the church has its own recording label and it sings every genre of music, not just gospel.

“We’re here in the backwoods of Alabama but utilizing technology to broaden our horizons,” Little said. “We are limited in resources, but we still have great potential. We have to be creative to bring resources into our community.”

The center is located on a river with a breathtaking view that participants looked out on during the panel discussion.

“This tour has been what I had hoped it would be,” said Dr. Edward Geno, M.D., faculty member in the College of Community Health Sciences’ Department of Family Medicine specializing in family, internal and rural medicine. “I heard about the efforts and the dedication of these people and how they have interacted with the college to promote some of the needs of their community. These are impressive individuals who have overcome a lot personally and in their community.”

Geno, who works to develop medical leaders, said he was most impressed by the people affiliated with Hill Hospital of Sumter County and Whatley Health Services because of the leadership required to sustain a rural medical facility or practice. “They had healthcare leadership initiatives, which is a huge need in graduate medical education,” Geno said.

In Marion, Alabama, in Perry County, the participants visited historic Judson College, which was established in 1838 specifically to educate women and continues this tradition today.

From there, the group attended a panel discussion at Marion Methodist Church, after which they visited with UA Honors College students participating in the Black Belt Experience.

“I thought the tour would be a good way to see parts of Alabama that you don’t normally see, meet people that you normally wouldn’t have the chance to interact with, and hear about some of the issues that they are facing, and to see if there are ways the University can partner with them to address those issues and maybe improve the quality of life for the people in those areas,” said Alabama Transportation Institute Outreach Director Justice Smyth IV, whose family owns a farm in Uniontown (Perry County). “This has been an eye-opening experience; not just for me, but for the group,” he said.

 

Day 3, Friday, May 11

The New Faculty Community Engagement Tour concluded its three-day exploration of West Alabama and the Black Belt Region with stops in Uniontown, Thomasville, and Camden, ending in Selma, where the group crossed the historic Edmond Pettus Bridge.

Uniontown (Perry County) Mayor Jamaal Hunter hosted the group at the City Recreation Center. He was joined by Emefa Butler, founder of the non-profit CHOICE (Choosing to Help Others In our Community Excel); Gilbert Sentell of Sentell Engineering; and John H. Heard III, superintendent of Perry County Schools.

About the tour participants, Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president of UA’s Division of Community Affairs, said, “These are people who have gotten up at 7 o’clock in the morning and have ridden the bus for 12 hours because they were interested in hearing more about these communities and making their skillsets available to help in whatever way they can.”

Panelist discussed the needs of their area, including wastewater treatment plant concerns, transportation, education and communication.

As a result of a diminishing population, Uniontown has struggled with finding the funding needed to upgrade its water and wastewater treatment facility.

“In 2012, we were able to finally obtain funding to do some improvements to the water system and replace all of the water meters,” said Sentell. “This will allow the city to grow.”

Butler, who returned to Uniontown after living in Birmingham, founded CHOICE in 2009 in an effort to improve home community.

“It’s one thing to talk about where you are from and it’s another thing to invite people to where you are,” said Butler, who is hoping to form a communication network and solve transportation problems in her rural community.

“It only takes a little. Whatever you have, you can make a difference in the Black Belt,” Butler said. “Through community partnerships it will happen.”

She will open a Youth Resource Center on June 23 to improve “self-sufficiency, employability and the overall quality of life of the people” in Uniontown, she said. “I hope someone will donate a bus, van, or a car so that transportation will not be a barrier for our youth and young adults.”

After networking with panelists, the group traveled to Thomasville Civic Center in Clark County before touring the Golden Dragon Plant, which produces copper tubing. Afterward, they traveled to Camden, (Wilcox County), where they toured Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center and made purchases of locally made crafts and artwork.

Dr. Tracey S. Hodges, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, who just completed her first year in Tuscaloosa, was impressed with what she saw on the tour.

“With little resources the communities are doing great things. So, whatever the University can contribute I think they’ll just blossom,” Hodges said. “I do research in literacy and pretty much everyplace we’ve been has mentioned that as a problem.”

However, not all of the touring faculty are new to UA. Dr. Suzanne Horsley, associate professor of advertising and public relations, conducts service learning with her classes and attended the tour for ideas.

“I really don’t do community-based research, and I wanted to have a better concept of what that meant and what other partners are doing in the area,” said Horsley, who has been at UA for nine years. “It’s been really cool today to learn what other folks are doing, from supporting grant writing, to developing projects, to getting students to help figure out what the community’s needs are.”

She also welcomed the opportunity to meet people “from parts of campus that I wouldn’t normally get to talk to.”

After leaving Camden, the group visited the Selma Interpretive Center before traveling to the final panel presentation at the new Head Start program in Selma, operated by the Black Belt Community Foundation, a long time partner with and active in the Division of Community Affairs’ Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

“When this facility opened up this was a big wow factor, because children are our future, education is our future and we have a big workforce development issue in our city,” said Selma Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sheryl Smedley.

Although Selma is a part of the Black Belt Region, it has more tourism opportunities than most cities in the regions. “Our biggest partner is the state tourism department,” said Barja Wilson, executive director of the Selma Redevelopment Authority, adding that the city is working to getting listed on more national registries to increase tourism. Additionally, a $2 million expansion of the Interpretive Center will break ground soon.

Nathaniel Shannon, a doctoral education psychology student, attended the tour all three days.

“In looking for research projects, my classmates and I found that the Tuscaloosa area was saturated with research,” Shannon said as a reason he decided to attend the tour. “I also knew that surrounding counties needed research and that there are areas where I can share my knowledge and people can share their knowledge with me.”

At the end of Day 3, veterans of the first two years of the New Faculty Engagement Tour we talked with, as well as many newcomers, came away exhausted but full of new ideas for future scholarly engagement and unanimous in their perception that their experience was a valuable one.

Typical of the reaction to the experience was the following statement by Dr. Greg Bell, assistant professor and senior data analyst in the Institute for Rural Health Research, College of Community Health Sciences:

“Please know how grateful I am to have been invited to attend the community engagement tour. I was able to attend the Black Belt session on Friday and found it to be both informative and inspirational. I finished the (very long!) day with ideas for a couple of grants that I will now be able to pursue with the benefit of local knowledge and some newfound UA resources. I hope this great program continues to thrive as a catalyst for difference-making programs and meaningful research.”

Council Hosts Twelfth Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Council on Community-Based Partnerships hosted its Excellence in Community Engagement Awards on April 18 at the Bryant Conference Center with more than 200 people in attendance to share in the celebration of research and service activities of The University of Alabama and its community partners. It was the 12thannual awards ceremony.

The luncheon is a culmination of the efforts of faculty and students working to fulfill the University’s teaching, research and service mission through partnerships with community groups.

Each year this program recognizes faculty, community partners and students who work to change the lives of others through their engagement research efforts by granting seed funds, graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, travel grants and a variety of other activities.

Not only does this event serve to recognize and encourage social consciousness that manifests itself through active problem-solving, this year’s event recognized a person who has been an integral part of CCBP since its inception. CCBP Director of Communication and Research Dr. Edward Mullins was this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement Award.

“Every year with this program I’ve had the opportunity to present the very first award. It’s the highest award that we give and it’s to someone who has made a significant impact on the landscape of community-engaged scholarship and through their work and through their lives have made a tremendous difference in the quality of lives for others,” said Vice President of Community Affairs Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, recalling such past recipients of the award as UA Chancellor Dr. Mack Portera, former UA President Dr. Judy Bonner, and current president of Morgan State University Dr. David Wilson,. “These are all giants and the person who will receive this award today is also a giant.”

Mullins, a retired dean of UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, according to Pruitt, has dedicated his entire life to helping others achieve their educational potential.

“Years ago,” Pruitt recalled, “when we had this hair-brained idea of trying to do this kind of work on our campus, Ed was retiring from the College of Communication, and he said to me, ‘I’ve got a sense that I know what you’re trying to do, and if you’ll find a corner somewhere in an office with a computer I’ll help you.’ And help me he has. From our research journal to our inclusion in ESC (Engagement Scholarship Consortium), to our Carnegie Classification and countless conversations about strategy and staffing, he’s always been there.”

Pruitt gave special credit to Mullins for his role, along with that of founding editor Dr. Cassandra Simon, in the development of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES), now in its second decade of publication. It is published at the University and today is considered the leading journal in engaged scholarship.

Mullins came up with the original design and format for the publication and with the editorial philosophy that writing for the journal would place a priority on a style of writing that would be accessible to non-academics. As Simon put it in her original column about the journal, “We want JCES to look different, to be different, and to make a difference.” Apart from JCES publisher Pruitt, Mullins is the only member of the original staff still working for the journal.

Three awards were made in the faculty, staff and community partner Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholars category. They were Laurie Bonnici, associate professor, School of Library and Information Studies; Justin Washington, graduate student in the Culverhouse College of Business; and Jim Page, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

A veteran community-engaged scholar, during the past year Bonnici was a visiting scholar at the Social Media Lab at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Washington used his UA-acquired entrepreneurial skills to assist with funding to start programs and to help existing programs such as the Tuscaloosa Boys and Girls Club.” Under Page, the chamber was cited for its work with supporting youth, former inmates and nonprofits.

Five people received the Excellence Award for Outstanding Engagement Effort. They were: Amanda Lightsey of Tuscaloosa’s One Place; Lauren Martin, an undergraduate student in Honors College; Melanie Acosta, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; Darrin J. Griffin, assistant professor of communication studies; and Yuehan Lu, associate professor of geological sciences.

These awards come with a $2,000 stipend to help the scholars continue their work. For example, Griffin said the funds would enable his team to produce weather workshops for the deaf community preliminary to seeking larger grants in the future.

The Council awarded two seed grants. One went to Dr. Abbey Gregg, assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and the Institute for Rural Health Research in the College of Community Health Sciences (CCHS), and Dr. Elwin Crawford in the state Department of Public Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services. They received $3,520 to assess community needs related to mobile integrated healthcare intervention. The second was to Dr. Robin A. McWilliam, professor of special education and multiple abilities to support his work with Alabama’s Early Intervention System, Community Service Program of West Alabama. McWilliam was awarded $4,902 for telehealth research for families with infants and toddlers.

Graduate fellowships were awarded to Temilade Ayo Aladeokin and Kim Wang, doctoral students in social work, and for a student to be named later to work with Dr. Yuehan Lu, assistant professor in geological sciences.

The council also assists students and faculty with travel to present their research at scholarly conferences around the world. This year’s $1,000 travel grant recipients were Emily Brown, master’s student in biological sciences; Dr. Abbey Gregg, CCHS; Dr. Mary Kelley, assistant professor with the Capstone College of Nursing; Ashley Stewart, anthropology doctoral student; and Calia A. Torres, psychology doctoral student.

“I went to Tucson, Arizona to attend the American Ornithological Society annual meeting. It’s a nationwide conference on bird research,” said Brown. “I got to speak to someone who has been working with red-cockaded woodpeckers for 30 years and learning from what he’s learned from his research really helped me to frame my papers and research that I am working on.”

Another highlight of the luncheon was the presentation of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship, named for a CCBP work-study student who died the night before he was to graduate magna cum laude with a degree in economics. This year’s recipient was Kathryn Taylor, a sophomore in communication studies who came to CCBP and immediately involved herself in its mission.

“It is the best department on campus,” said Taylor, who followed her older sister to UA from Connecticut. “I work alongside so many professional people and it’s been such a great opportunity for me to grow professionally. Working with them sets you up for a passionate future doing what you love.”

Dr Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education and chair of the executive committee Council, brought welcome to the audience and gave a brief report on the achievements of the past year. He praised the award recipients and their partners for their “remarkable individual efforts” and “life-reaching work.”

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting – March 22, 2018

In Attendance: Jackie Brodsky, Megan Carlton, Dee Cook, Thometta Cozart, George Daniels, Amy Dillon, Paige Ferguson, Elizabeth Hartley, Peter Hlebowitsh, Candace Johnson, CeeCee Johnson, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, Billy Kirkpatrick, Amanda Lightsey, James E. McLean, Jasmine Merritt, Holly Morgan, Jane Newman, Nicole Prewitt, Samory T. Pruitt, Whitney Sewell, Chas Shipman, Chris Spencer, Daniela Susnara, Matthew Wisla

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, CCBP executive council chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting and called the meeting to order. He proceeded with an update on the Promise Neighborhood Grant, sharing that the concept behind this grant is to provide update and renewal opportunities to areas of the country that need it. Recognizing that this initiative would benefit the Black Belt region of Alabama, Dr. Hlebowitsh and Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), designed a prototype to begin to put together a proposal. West Tuscaloosa was added to the proposal, which targets concerns in the areas of health and nutrition, crime and safety and other important issues. Hlebowitsh and Prewitt have also identified community partners and are framing the proposal. They will update the Council as they move forward.

Amanda Lightsey, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place and chair of the Council’s Community Partner Support Committee, shared an overview of the Prison Re-entry into Society Program. Lightsey, Prewitt and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama are looking at a model curriculum program that would help prisoners prepare to re-enter the community as workforce-ready individuals able to maintain stable employment.

Lightsey and Prewitt shared that there are thousands of jobs in the area, particularly in manufacturing, that need to be filled. Several companies realized they would have to adjust some of their employment practices in order to fill these vacant positions. Accordingly, they have been looking at a model used to help replicate the Prison Re-entry into Society Program throughout the state. Additionally, 8–10 percent of prisoners in Alabama are veterans, so the group is also looking at subsections within the prison population to be certain that the curriculum they develop meets the needs of all prisoners. This would be the first program of its kind in Alabama.

Companies included in the discussion are Mercedes, Phifer Wire and a host of related service providers, as well as state representatives from the Department of Corrections. Those interested in getting involved with this program or who have questions should contact Donny Jones at the Chamber at 205-391-0552 or at donny@chambertuscaloosa.com.

Dr. George Daniels, chair of the Excellence in Community Engagement Recognition Committee, gave an update on the Council’s upcoming Excellence Awards Program, sharing that the committee members are excited about the annual awards luncheon and ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, April 18, at the Bryant Conference Center.

Daniels spoke of the importance of recognizing partnership development in community engagement. He reported that there had been open calls for submissions in the areas of partnerships initiated in the community, by students and by faculty. The awards program also provides an opportunity to recognize those who receive travel awards and to showcase seed fund projects and research work shared via poster presentations. Again this year, posters will be presented in conjunction with the SCOPE student presentations and will be on display both before and immediately following the luncheon.

Daniels also said that this awards luncheon is one of the highlights of the year and that we hope to see as many Council members as are available in attendance. Those planning to attend should RSVP by Wednesday, April 11, via the email invitation already distributed.

CeeCee Johnson, chair of the Student Involvement and Support Committee, gave an overview of what to expect at the SCOPE Student Showcase, which will take place the morning of Wednesday, April 18, also at the Bryant Conference Center. SCOPE (Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership, and Engagement) is a student organization that seeks to involve undergraduate and graduate students in community engagement work.

Johnson reported that submissions to present at the SCOPE Showcase will be open through Friday, March 23. Presentations will begin the morning of April 18 with a panel of SCOPE students who will be sharing their experiences in the organization throughout the past year, as well as their experiences in community engagement. They will also discuss what brought them to SCOPE and what they got out of their involvement. Student paper presentations will follow, and then finally the poster session, which will be combined with the Excellence Awards Luncheon poster session. Johnson also indicated that SCOPE students would welcome and appreciate feedback from faculty members in attendance who work in the area of community engagement.

Dr. Karl Hamner, director of the Office of Evaluation, College of Education, spoke to the Council about Operation Deep Dive, aptly named because it takes a deep dive into the problem of veteran suicide in the community.

Hamner shared that 20 veterans kill themselves each day, which equates to more than 7,000 veterans a year. The question he and his team are trying to answer is, “What role does community engagement play in reducing or isolating suicide?”

Utilizing a grant from Bristol Myers-Squibb, Hamner and his team have developed a proposal with six other communities across the nation and will conduct a retrospect of every veteran suicide that they can. For this study, they are using Veterans Affairs (VA) data and service history and are looking at all veterans rather than just those who qualify for VA services. This will include those who were dishonorably discharged.

The researchers will be partnering with medical examiners and coroners, as well as with the community, on this project. They know that white males are two times more likely to kill themselves than other ethnicities, but even with this knowledge have been unable to impact suicide rates nationally. They attribute this statistic to a loss of purpose, loss of belonging and social isolation that affects many veterans. Accordingly, they are referring to this part of the project as a “social-cultural autopsy.” There will be a community engagement board representing the medical and veteran communities in every participating community. Site visits will begin during summer 2018.

In addition to the VA, the Department of Defense is also sharing its data with the project. Other agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, are also coming to the table and taking an interest in the project.

Whitney Sewell, Community Affairs program coordinator, discussed the upcoming New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, which seeks to connect new faculty members at UA to existing community outreach endeavors in a way that helps them visualize how their research might fit into an existing partnership or even form a new one.

The tour will take place Wednesday through Friday, May 9 through 11, from approximately 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily, and will include three site visits with panel discussions each day. Participants can sign up for one, two, or all three days. There is no fee to attend. Sign-up will begin during the first week of April and is open to faculty, staff and graduate students.

In its second year, the tour through Alabama’s Black Belt region provides participants with an opportunity to see new parts of the state that they call home but might not normally get to see, and also to meet people that they might not normally have the opportunity to meet.

Shifting gears, Prewitt discussed the Saving Lives Academy, a pilot to train church health advocates in areas of physical activity, nutrition, and health education and promotion. The pilot program was launched this week and Prewitt’s team has already received feedback. They hope to use that feedback to establish the inaugural academy in September, and are enthusiastic about contributing to the public health infrastructure by providing church advocates information for their congregants. They have also partnered with the VA and with Shelton State Community College for future sessions.

Dr. Holly Morgan, director of community engagement at the CCBP, discussed both Swim to the Top and the STEM Entrepreneurship Academy, two summer program offerings. Planning is underway for both programs.

Swim to the TOP is a partnership with the Benjamin Barnes YMCA, First Tee of Tuscaloosa, both Tuscaloosa City and County, and the UA College of Education. The Swim to the Top program is housed at the Benjamin Barnes Branch YMCA. Their instructors provide swimming instruction, physical fitness instruction and academic enrichment to the students who participate. At the end of the month-long program, a final showcase to include parents will be presented. Morgan and her team want to be certain there are measurable assessments across the board to use in the future and to help measure growth across the program. Swim to the Top will take place during the month of June.

The STEM Entrepreneurship Academy is a week-long residential camp that is hosted on the UA campus, in partnership with multiple entities on campus. For the camp, 40 rising 10th and 11th graders from the Black Belt region of Alabama will be recruited. The camp’s focus is on the STEM fields and the area of entrepreneurship. Partners include the UA College of Arts & Sciences, UA Student Life, the UA College of Engineering and the UA College of Business. In addition, the program receives contributions from The Edge and The Tuscaloosa Gateway program. This opportunity also operates through the Google classroom platform to provide outreach to schools when students and teachers are not on campus.

Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of CCBP, updated the Council on ongoing grant-writing workshops, noting that we are currently in the second round of the program. Teams from the first round were successful in finding funding for a number of community initiatives, including textbook, veterans’, HIV, and Head Start programs. A conservative estimate is that the 10 teams participating in round one have raised more than $30 million. It is too early to have estimates on projects from the second round, as those teams will complete the program in June.

McLean announced that a third round of workshops has been funded for 2018–2019, and that the call for participation will be coming out in about two weeks. The third round will begin in mid-August and will conclude in early June, 2019. There will be up to eight UA/community teams, as well as individual slots for participation. Teams must have a minimum of two people — one from UA and one from the community — and be willing to work toward improving the quality of life in some way for the community. Workshops will again be led by David G. Bauer, who will also conduct the individual grant- coaching programs for the teams.

McLean shared that he has never heard anyone express to him that it was not worth the time or effort teams put into the grant-writing workshops. If you know of a team that might be interested in participating, you are encouraged to make them aware that the call is coming out. The tentative deadline for applications for round three is May 19.

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, concluded the meeting with a brief update on the 2018 Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) Conference, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 30 through Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He reported that this conference will be significantly different from previous ESC conferences, as it will be the first one under the new ESC 20/20 strategic plan.

For the first time, there will be an awards program during the conference, the categories of which will be similar to the Excellence Awards program here on campus. There will also be a panel of tenured faculty members who will be part of a workshop on best practices and literature on the subject of leadership in community engagement. UA faculty members and students are encouraged to attend the conference.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:50 p.m.


The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting – February 15, 2018

In Attendance: Melanie Acosta, Carol Agomo, Paige Bolden, Jackie Brodsky, Dee Cook, Safiya George, Kimberly Gibson, Elizabeth Hartley, Beverly Hawk, CeeCee Johnson, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, Candace Johnson, Hee Yun Lee, Amanda Lightsey, Jim McLean, Holly Morgan, Ed Mullins, Jen Nickelson, Samory Pruitt, Sarah Saeed, Chas Shipman, John Wheat

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, CCBP executive council chair, welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order. He then shared highlights of items he and Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) have been working on.

He shared that the Promise Neighborhood Grant is offered by the federal government to an impoverished area in need of a hand up. Hlebowitsh and Prewitt are in conversation with prospective partners they have identified, as well as with Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of CCBP, and Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs. This grant proposal opportunity currently involves a host of partners, including CCBP, the Helping Families Initiative, the UA College of Education, CVS Partners and the UA School of Social Work. Additional partners may be added, but this initial group provides a good core for covering the grant objectives.

They reported that the first step forward is to define the area they wish to target by documenting the main needs in that area. The group is currently considering west Tuscaloosa and into the Black Belt region as the target area.

Documenting the needs in this area is likely to follow a familiar path:

  1. access to medical and dental expertise
  2. access to first-rate pre-school education
  3. dramatic deficiencies in school achievement
  4. significant problems with health, nutrition concerns, and disproportionately high obesity rates
  5. crime and safety concerns
  6. home environment and parent education needs

 

Hlebowitsh and Prewitt plan to meet on a bimonthly basis to get partners involved and to begin putting together a narrative. They hope to have a proposal ready for presentation by summer 2018.

Prewitt then gave updates on community engagement programs and partnerships, including Saving Lives, the Neighborhood Partnership Committee (NPC) and the Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education (TCHE).

Since 2012, The University of Alabama has had a faith-based partnership with eight area churches and more than 40 advocates in those churches. The partnership, known as Saving Lives, works to share information with advocates, who then share with their congregants. Prewitt has provided advocates with health information, nutritional information, information about physical activity, etc., and is interested in moving that initiative forward through the idea of an academy, which will be a network that aims to connect faith and health through coordinated activities and key messaging around the Saving Lives Trilogy: health information, nutrition, and physical activity. Prewitt plans to target nurses or other healthcare-related congregants to help spread the Saving Lives message to increase health and wellness activities within these churches. Saving Lives currently provides them with monthly activities, events, or information. The goal is to expand that reach by developing more people within various churches. Prewitt has plans to pilot this academy within the next few weeks.

Prewitt then discussed her work with the Neighborhood Partnership Committee (NPC), whose mission is to improve the relationships among UA students, law enforcement and off-campus neighbors. The NPC has recently expanded its mission to include supporting the establishment and engagement of neighborhood associations. The University of Alabama will also continue to contribute to the establishment of a Neighborhood Registry. The City of Tuscaloosa does not currently have an active registry of every neighborhood in the city. Prewitt’s work with the NPC will also help provide support to help individuals within neighborhoods learn more about their city and how it functions.

Dr. Prewitt’s final topic touched on the Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education (TCHE). The TCHE believes the partnership of a public flagship research university, an historically black college and a community college all in a single community is truly unique. The TCHE is a consortium of three institutions committed to advancing community engagement, collaboration and the role of higher education in enhancing the educational opportunities for more than 43,000 students. The TCHE would like to have a designated liaison from each institution and to establish 3–4 key priorities on which the three institutions work together. This consortium could identify grant opportunities that may exist for collaborative efforts.

Committee chair updates followed.

Dr. Jen Nickelson, chair of the Academic Conference and Presentation Committee, reminded the Council that Feb. 15 is the deadline to submit poster proposals, as well as spring semester travel award applications. Council members were asked to encourage those they know who desire funding to present their work or to receive training for community-engaged scholarship work to submit their proposals by the end of the day. She shared that accepted posters will be presented at the Council’s annual Excellence Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, April 18.

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt vice president for Community Affairs, reminded the Council members that in addition to travel award applications, nominations for the spring 2018 Council awards for all calls is also February 15.

CeeCee Johnson, co-chair of the Student Involvement and Support Committee, provided attendees with a SCOPE (Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement) handout. She also reported that Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Engagement, CCBP, will speak to SCOPE students at their Monday, Feb. 19 meeting on the topic of writing an Institutional Review Board (IRB) proposal. Four SCOPE meetings remain for the spring semester, as noted on the handout. Johnson asked that those present inform and invite interested students and faculty members to attend. She reported that SCOPE’s attendance numbers continue to grow as the organization gains more awareness of and interest in their work. Johnson added a reminder that the SCOPE Student Showcase will be held prior to the Excellence Awards Luncheon on April 18 at the Bryant Conference Center. The deadline to submit for the SCOPE Student Showcase is Friday, March 23.

In the area of community engagement in action, Dr. Melanie Acosta, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, shared information on the Matthews Elementary After-School Program. Acosta has started a program called The Literacy Lab at Matthews Elementary School. The program is a new partnership among Matthews, Tuscaloosa’s One Place and the UA College of Education.

For the program, UA undergraduate students enrolled in an elementary literacy methods class engage in literacy teaching activities with 2nd–5th graders in the MATs program. The host class is held in the library at Matthews Elementary one day per week for 8–9 weeks. The undergraduates are supervised each week by UA professors, MATs teachers and MATs coordinators. They provide elementary students with both whole- and small-group instruction.

What makes this program distinct is that it utilizes evidence-based literacy practices that have been documented and well researched for African American and Hispanic students living in low-income communities. This includes an emphasis on:

  • building and maintaining literacy learning communities
  • culturally relevant studies
  • multicultural texts and critical literacy
  • collaboration and conversation
  • engaging and student-centered reading activities and experiences
  • ethnographic research

Acosta’s UA students are divided up among the four grade levels, with five–six College of Education students on each grade-level team. They each serve 10–12 students per grade level for one hour each week, on Thursdays from 3:30–4:30 p.m. In addition to the teaching experience, Acosta wants to help students learn to develop relationships with parents and their communities. One way they accomplish this is through the Seuss-A-Palooza Literacy Carnival in the spring. Seuss-A-Palooza features games that focus on literacy activities. The students help prepare it, set up for it, and then facilitate the games that take place. The Matthews Elementary PTA and other community-based programs attend the carnival, along with parents and families of Matthews Elementary students. Children and their families gather and engage together in the activities in addition to the carnival games.

In fall 2017, Acosta and her students held a Multicultural Literacy Carnival at Matthews Elementary, as well. It featured the same setup as Seuss-A-Palooza, but this time the students celebrated multiculturalism and diversity. The carnival included literacy booths, rocking readers booths for younger children and babies and a book walk where they gave away multicultural children’s literature.

Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education, CCBP, proudly shared that we are approaching the 10-year anniversary of the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA). The original PTLA class began in 2007 as simply the Parent Leadership Academy. It was a partnership among Tuscaloosa City and County Schools, the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences, the UA College of Education and the Division of Community Affairs. The Academy has grown to more than 200 participants this year, and now includes a Teacher Leadership component, as well as an elementary component and a middle school academy. As the Academy grows, it continues to target professional leadership sessions, but also includes parents and teachers working together on a joint project that is aligned with one goal of the school’s improvement plan. Parents and teachers go through training on how to accomplish their projects in order to make a positive impact on their schools. All sessions are archived on the PTLA website. The 2018 PTLA graduation celebration will take place Tuesday, April 10 at the Bryant Conference Center.

Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement, CCBP, gave a brief update on Fulbright scholarships at The University of Alabama, sharing that UA will again be named a top producer of U.S. students with Fulbright scholarships. The announcement will be made next week in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The University has accomplished this recognition twice during the last three years. Members of the Council can help UA continue to achieve Fulbright success at this level by sending students to meet with Hawk and former Fulbright students at the Fulbright celebration scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22, from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. in the training room at Capital Hall. Hawk noted that community engagement is a big key to UA’s Fulbright success, and encouraged Council members to send students interested in Fulbright to her.

She reported that UA submitted 39 names this year and that the results will be announced in April 2018 for the 2018–2019 academic year. Ultimately, the host countries are responsible for making the final cut regarding who goes through to take part in the Fulbright cross-cultural experience.

The deadline for Fulbright applications usually occurs around Sept. 1 annually.

Dr. Jim McLean, executive director of CCBP, spoke on the subject of the assessment and evaluation of community engagement on the UA campus. McLean and Pruitt are currently working on a way to document and preserve the accomplishments of engagement scholarship at UA. This assessment starts with the “Three R’s”:

  1. Relevance — What is the effort seeking to accomplish and what does success look like for all of the partners?
  2. Reciprocity — How will the roles of the partners be designed so that their involvement significantly contributes to the success of the effort?
  3. Research — What theoretical research framework will be utilized to ensure the success of the effort and how will that research be shared with all of the partners?

They, along with Dr. Edward Mullins, director of Research and Communication at CCBP, are in the process of writing a book on the subject of engaged scholarship methods and they hope to have something out by the end of this year. Ms. Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs, is also working on an evaluation plan that will help document The University of Alabama’s involvement with the community in a simpler manner moving forward.

Pruitt discussed his work with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC). Two years ago, ESC put together a strategic action plan called ESC 20/20. One component of that strategic action plan is the creation of an awards program. That program will be hosted for the first time at the 2018 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and will recognize the first of three of the original ESC founders, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, with the institutional excellence award. At the conference in Denver, Colorado in 2019, ESC will recognize The Ohio State University, the second of the three original founders. At the ESC Conference in 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ESC will recognize the third of the three original founders, Penn State University. After those three original institutions, Dr. Pruitt noted that the next biggest contributor to ESC is The University of Alabama.

Information about the 2018 conference is available on the ESC website at https://engagementscholarship.org.

The next Council meeting will take place Thursday, March 22, in the Hotel Capstone Ballroom.

The Council’s Excellence Awards Program and SCOPE Student Showcase will take place Wednesday, April 18, in Sellers Auditorium at the Bryant Conference Center.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting – October 25, 2017

In Attendance: Carol Agomo, David L. Albright, Karyn Bowen, Jackie Brodsky, Dee Cook, Martha Crowther, Andre Denham, Andrew Goodliffe, Karl Hamner, Elizabeth Hartley, CeeCee Johnson, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, Jim McLean, Lane McLelland, Ed Mullins, Jen Nickelson, Sarah Saeed, Whitney Sewell, Chas Shipman, Chris Spencer, Maruka Walker, Justin Washington

Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), welcomed those in attendance and opened the meeting.

Dr. Martha Crowther, chair of the Proposal and Seed Funds Committee, reminded Council members that there are seed funds available for both faculty and staff members, as well as for students and community partners. She shared that her committee has been working to streamline the website application process. Crowther asked that everyone who applies for seed funding be certain that the research projects submitted are clear and that applicants include their community partner in their application. Submitting a letter from the community partner with the application will also help speed the process.

Crowther said the call for proposals is now open and urged those with questions to contact her via email at mrcrowther@ua.edu.

Sabrina Thomas, assistant executive director, shared information about the Juvenile Justice Re-entry Program at Tuscaloosa’s One Place (TOP), noting that TOP recently received a federal grant from the office of juvenile delinquency prevention. Theirs is one of only six programs chosen for this grant, and serves children who are in that gap between being children and becoming adults and who are returning from various types of confined placement.

Thomas shared that TOP has collaborated with The University of Alabama School of Law and will have a third-year law student working with them in this three-part program on the issues of case management, legal services and mentoring. A part-time staff attorney will advise the law student regarding legal services that can be provided. Additionally, a case manager will be hired, and that individual will see families once each week. They have found that adults who are in families with these returning youth also need a mentoring program. Because of this, youth will obtain life skills and homework help while the adults in their lives receive help through Love, Inc., with training for job skills, budgeting and related issues.

In addition, they have spoken with Indian Rivers, Tuscaloosa Family Counseling Services and Shelton State Community College (for assistance with the GED program). Their goal is to help these young people successfully re-enter society.

McLean shared a brief update on the Gear-Up Alabama Program, which is designed to help students experience success in post-secondary education through school and career preparatory courses, as well as through peer tutoring. The seven-year program is housed fiscally at UAB and the director is there, as well. There are four CoPIs. McLean is one of them. Dr. George Daniels is also heavily involved with this project. The program began with a cohort of students in the 7th and 8th grades who are now in the 9th and 10th grades. In addition to the work done in their schools, there is also a Campus Activity Day that brings students participating in the program to the UA campus. The program works with students in 15 counties in the Black Belt region of Alabama, and many of these students have never previously visited a college campus. Program leaders are working on an expansion of the program for the future, to involve overnight stays, career exploration with presentations from three to four colleges and hands-on opportunities in these areas, as well as education on what it takes to prepare for these types of careers. Past projects include a dig at Old Cahawba and communications work. For more information, Council members may visit www.gearupal.com.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, chair of the Executive Council, spoke briefly about the Promise Neighborhood Grants, a series of federal grants that requires bringing together schools, police departments, community leaders, churches and synagogues, and more. Based on grant criteria, it has been determined that the only agency on the UA campus that would be considered eligible for this grant is the Council on Community-Based Partnerships. Hlebowitsh shared that talks are underway regarding putting together an application before the June 2018 deadline. He said that at this point, we are working to see if we can start putting the pieces in place to successfully secure a Promise Neighborhood Grant. The University has never been through such a process before, but Hlebowitsh sees this as a real possibility for UA.

Additionally, Hlebowitsh said that he has expressed to faculty members in his college — the College of Education — that grants are not research related only, but that they can have very powerful service components. He believes this is a narrative that Council members need to spread across campus. Hlebowitsh has been trying to get faculty members to look to the Council to see if they could utilize this group of individuals to think in a way that is geared toward service-related grant components. One example given of this type of grant was the Wounded Warrior Project Grant put together by Dr. Karl Hamner and Dr. David L. Albright from the School of Social Work.

Ms. Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs, discussed the recent Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference hosted by Auburn University. The 2017 ESC Conference took place in late September in Birmingham. The conference had a record number of attendees this year — almost 600 — and continues to grow in attendance each year.

In related ESC news, The University of Alabama is seeing an increased number of presentations from UA faculty and staff at this annual gathering of community engagement professionals. This year, there were 20 oral and two poster presentations by UA faculty, staff, students and community partners. More information about the 2017 ESC Conference is available on the Community Affairs website at http://communityaffairs.ua.edu/news-archive/.

McLean gave a brief update on the community collaborative space in Capital Hall. Beginning at the end of this semester, CCBP will move forward with a $1 million renovation of additional space in Capital Hall, which will be used for student groups working with community partners. McLean said that the overall goal is to design a creative, functional space that will facilitate communication across disciplines for students who share a commitment to community engagement.

Six entities will initially have space in this area, including the College of Communication and Information Sciences, the College of Community Health Sciences, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, the Honors College and the School of Social Work. The initial contracts will support these groups for up to four years.

There will be several indoor work areas, as well as the ability to access outdoor space when needed. The planning committee for this space has already met for the first time and includes student and faculty representatives from the six entities involved. The second meeting is expected to be set within the next month. All involved hope to have the community collaborative space open by fall 2018. The Center also hopes to have six or more offices for use by community partners.

Agomo shared information about the Schweitzer Fellowship Program, which has 15 national offices, one of which is in Birmingham. The director of the Birmingham chapter reached out to the Council to help share this opportunity across campus. Agomo said that the Schweitzer Fellowship helps graduate students interested in addressing unmet community health needs and allows them to partner with organizations across the state. In the past, a number of UA and UAB medical students have participated. This is a year-long program that mentors students in their research design and in carrying out their efforts. The fellowship goal is not to simply propose a project, but to be certain there are actual outcomes — changes in the community — that can be assessed.

The application process requires the students to submit applications. The Council has been asked to identify qualified students who might be interested in applying for this fellowship. The application window is from November 2017 through February 2018. Two hundred hours of service (100 in specific service activities) are required, and appointments run from April–April. Handouts were available for those interested in learning more.

McLean gave a brief update on the ACCESS (Alabama Centralized Community-Engaged Scholarship System) project. During the last Council meeting, visitors from CAPS shared how they are developing a database that will show all of the Center’s programs occurring throughout the state. In the next phase, the website will be updated to show all UA community engagement and research activity. Approximately 50 percent of the projects from CCBP have already been entered into the database and CCBP is building a web page where this project will reside. Organizers hope to go live with this database by the first of the year (2018).

Dr. Jen Nickelson, chair of the Academic Conference and Presentation Committee, reminded attendees that anyone who is interested in applying for travel funds can apply for up to $1,000 through the committee. This is for the purpose of attending a conference to receive training or to support their research. Nickelson shared that the next deadline to apply for this award will be in February 2018. She shared that the application process is open to community members, students and faculty/staff as long as the travel is related to a community-engaged conference or training. Nickelson will be available for further questions as needed. There are also rubrics available to help show transparency regarding what our committees are looking for during each award funding process. These rubrics are available for download from the Council website at http://ccbp.ua.edu/travel-funds/.

Mclean shared that CCBP has two new employees coming on board in the near future.

Dr. Nicole Prewitt will take over Chris Spencer’s former position as he moves on to a new position within the Division of Community Affairs. A search was conducted to fill the position and Prewitt will serve as director of Programs and Partnerships for Community Engagement, CCBP, beginning Nov. 1, 2017. Prewitt earned her doctorate in adult and community education from Ball State University, a master of arts in education leadership from UAB and her undergraduate degree in biology, history and secondary education from Alabama A&M. She has served as a dean at both a 4-year and a 2-year institution here in Alabama and has worked directly with writing and obtaining grants within the area of community development. She also possesses an excellent publication record. Details of her position include working with Saving Lives, the Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education, the Neighborhood Partnership Committee and possibly the Promise Neighborhood Grant.

Ms. Sarah Saeed will begin as program coordinator for CCBP Operations. She has already been involved in a number of programs around the University and holds a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice and business. She is also on her way to earning a master’s degree in social work. Saeed has worked as a teacher assistant, a bookkeeper and on a number of other campus-wide programs. She has already taken over a number of the duties of this position, which was previously held by Ms. Yun Fu, who retired in August 2017. Saeed will come to work at the Center full-time beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

No additional announcements were made.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:30 p.m.


The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Holds First Meeting of Academic Year

Tuscaloosa, Ala. — The Council on Community-Based Partnerships held its first meeting of the academic year Wednesday, Sept. 6, in the Bryant Conference Center Birmingham Room on campus. Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, opened the meeting.

Pruitt gave an update on plans for a new collaborative space that will be located in Capital Hall. Set to open for the fall 2018 semester, the space will initially house six student groups that are focused primarily on a community engagement mission. They include groups representing the Department of Social Work, the College of Engineering, the College of Education, the College of Communication and Information Sciences, the Honors College and the College of Community Health Sciences. Pruitt said that most of these groups have 20 students on average. He described a high-energy space with the feel of a popular coffee house. The University is investing in excess of $1 million for the necessary space renovation. Considered Phase 1, the space will bring together students across disciplines who are interested in community-engaged scholarship. With an eye toward Capital Hall becoming the community engagement center for The University of Alabama’s campus, Phase 2 will likely include shared space with some of our community partners.

In other news, Pruitt reported that we plan to recognize members of the original Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship editorial board at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium conference in Birmingham. He also reminded those present that if they have not yet registered for the conference, Community Affairs can help them with their registration.

Pruitt introduced ACCESS, the Alabama Centralized Community-Engaged Scholarship System, and turned things over to Matthew Hudnall and Laura Myers from UA’s Center for Advanced Public Safety. They have been working with the Division of Community Affairs and its Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) since early this calendar year to develop a tool that will allow faculty, staff and students to see what is happening at UA in the area of community-engaged scholarship, which will in turn aid in building relationships across campus, in opportunities for collaboration and in shared publishing possibilities.

Hudnall and Myers gave a front-side demonstration of the project, sharing that data is input and then is able to be filtered and searched. At present, the sample data is grouped by counties. They reported that as more data and counties are added, the system will expand in such a way that those interested will be able to search projects with more filtering capabilities, including active and completed projects and other categories. Additionally, ACCESS will have video loading capabilities.

Dr. Jim McLean, executive director of the CCBP, said that once the initial data input is complete, a more thorough test will be conducted and there will likely be campus-wide submissions through a Qualtrix survey. He indicated that the site will go live after faculty have had opportunity to share input and make suggestions, and that the project is being driven through faculty, as they are involved with both students and communities.

Among the noted advantages of utilizing this technology are that ACCESS will provide an effective and efficient means by which to learn about all of these types of projects occurring at UA by gathering all of the appropriate data into one place. This will create additional opportunities for collaboration and will provide an opportunity to expand our students’ understanding of community engagement. The program can also be utilized by President Bell and others while making area-specific presentations to community groups, legislators and others. It was also pointed out that this will change the way we collect data. Rather than collecting for a report, which becomes obsolete almost as soon as it is printed, ACCESS will provide a method for ongoing data collection and reporting.

Questions about ACCESS should be directed to McLean at jmclean@ua.edu.

CCBP executive committee updates followed.

Dr. George Daniels, chair of the Excellence in Community Engagement Recognition Committee, requested that council members begin identifying projects they believe are worthy of recognition during the Council’s April 2018 Excellence in Community Engagement Awards luncheon. He shared that it is usually February when participants are asked to submit nominations for these awards, as well as for seed grant funding.

Daniels also shared that there are two upcoming opportunities to present work. The first is the Engaged Scholarship Consortium (ESC) conference, to be held September 26-27 in Birmingham. The second is the Gulf South Summit, which will take place April 4–6, 2018, also in Birmingham. The deadline for Gulf South Summit submissions is October 27, 2017. For more information: http://www.gulfsouthsummit.org/2018-conference/2018-proposals-and-submissions/.

Tera “CeeCee” Johnson, co-chair of the Student Involvement and Support Committee and president of the student organization Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement (SCOPE), shared that a calendar for SCOPE meetings is available through her or on the SCOPE website at http://ccbp.ua.edu/scope-4/.

SCOPE’s first meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11, and all interested individuals are invited to attend. SCOPE has several workshops planned that are both presentation-based and skills-based. Some examples of the activities SCOPE will offer throughout the semester are a PIE Workshop, a talk on West Alabama AIDS Outreach and a wide variety of other presentations. SCOPE welcomes all interested individuals at these sessions.

Those interested in speaking to SCOPE students about their work in community engagement should contact Johnson at tejohnson2@crimson.ua.edu.

Ms. Lane McLelland spoke briefly about Practicing Inclusive Engagement (PIE) Workshops offered by Crossroads Community Center. She explained that the subject of inclusive engagement is a lifelong practice; not just diversity training.

Crossroads typically offers a 1.5-hour or two-hour interactive experience. Subjects included in the workshops are: inclusive activity, language, and the use of interactive activities for skill building. The workshops focus on practicing together while learning to listen to all of the voices in the room, as well as learning how to ask questions in a non-offensive manner.

Crossroads is available to conduct PIE Workshops for classes, interns, community members and organizations, churches, etc. Workshop activities can be adjusted to meet specific organizational goals.

Following McLelland’s report, McLean gave a brief overview of the Grants and Sustainability Workshop, sharing that the first round of this workshop has secured around $10 million in funding for the 10 teams that participated.

The second round of workshops began in mid-August. This second round will occur over a 10-month period that more closely matches the University calendar. The focus of the first session covered obtaining funding through federal grants and through corporate and foundation grants. These workshops were immediately followed by individual coaching sessions.

The next session is scheduled for December and will be on the topic of sustainability and fundraising. The final session in March will be on the topic of forming effective teams to write grants and also on drafting a proposal and quality circle reviews of the proposals.

There will be a final coaching session and a celebratory dinner in June 2018.

Dr. McLean is arranging a third round of workshops for next year. He has negotiated with David Bauer and there are tentative dates for the third round of workshops.

The purpose of these workshops is ultimately to make a positive difference in our communities — a difference we are already seeing from the first round of workshops.

Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education at CCBP, shared an update on the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA). Morgan reported that PTLA is beginning the new academic year with several additions to the PTLA family, including the addition of two additional district partners, bringing the total number to six. Additionally, a middle school academy has been added for the current academic year.

Morgan reported that the academy is comprised of 65 percent elementary schools. The numbers for this year’s PTLA are as follows, and represent impressive growth over the previous year. For 2017–2018, there are 32 elementary participants (up from 24 elementary participants last year) and 17 middle schools. That is a grand total of 49 schools this year that will include 227 academy participants.

The six academies included in the program are: Pre-K Academy, Elementary Parent Academy, Hispanic Parent Academy, Teacher Academy, Middle School Parent Academy and Middle School Teacher Academy. The PTLA hopes to grow in the future at the middle school level. Teams are working together on a collaborative model project.

Additionally, PTLA has an upcoming ESC presentation this year.

Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement at CCBP, gave brief updates on Global Café and the Fulbright Scholarship program.

Global Café will begin Sept. 19 with international faculty. Additionally, anyone who is interested is welcome to send his or her students to participate. All are welcome to serve as a conversation partner or to seek one. This includes graduate students and community members. Global Café also welcomes people who are considering traveling internationally and wish to brush up on their foreign-language conversations skills. Last year, conversation partners completed 1,300 hours of one-on-one English language practice conversation, doubling the number of hours from the previous year.

Speaking on Fulbright, Hawk reported that The University of Alabama has 14 Fulbright participants around the globe this year. She encouraged those present to send prospective Fulbright Scholars to her as soon as possible so that she may help them get the application process started. She also reported that many countries participating in Fulbright don’t require fluency in a local language to obtain a certificate to teach English, and shared that Fulbright participants receive a stipend, an airline ticket and a medical insurance policy through the program, and that their student loans are frozen during their participation.

Engagement scholarship in action reports followed.

Dr. K. Andrew Richards, assistant professor of sport pedagogy, and UA student Ms. Victoria Nichole Ivy shared information with the group about the Alabama TOPS program, which focuses on Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) through an after-school physical activity program.

The program offers pre-service teachers the opportunity to teach in an alternative environment, to combine a focus on physical activity with responsibility, to gain 60 hours of teaching experience over two semesters and to develop long-term relationships with students. It provides them with opportunities to understand the realities of teaching grounded in real-world experience, to get to know students as people first and foremost and to overcome the struggles that come with the challenge of developing culturally appropriate lessons. Additionally, this experience helps pre-service teachers learn to maintain patience and teaches them how to formally collect data that will indicate children’s needs, as well as use that data to adjust the curriculum to address those needs. Another observation was that these pre-service teachers’ social justice values increased over the year.

Program participants spend three days each week at the Holt after-school program, which utilizes games and activities to facilitate enjoyment and engagement and use that as a way to open the door to have conversations with after-school program participants about respect, self-control, and a variety of life skills that children need to be able to learn, as well as teach them how to transfer the lessons they have learned beyond the gym. Two physical education (PETE) courses are integrated into the curriculum. The program includes relational time, awareness talk, lesson focus, group meeting, and finally, reflection time. Through this program, the Holt children build positive personal relationships with mentors and each other, gain an understanding of the TPSR goals and their meaning and improve movement concepts and physical activity skills. Following participation, the Holt children indicated a strong appreciation of University time and presence.

Ms. Amanda Lightsey, chair of the Community Partnership Support committee and executive director at Tuscaloosa’s One Place, shared that she is working with other non-profits around Tuscaloosa to learn how to better engage community partners and then get them to engage with The University of Alabama. She has learned that many community partners do not know how to pursue opportunities with UA, and she and those with whom she is working have created a list of six questions geared toward helping them figure out how to move forward to solve that dilemma. Questions include:

  • Do you partner or have you currently partnered with local colleges and universities?
  • Would you know how to find a research partner, faculty member, or department with a local college or university if you had a research project or idea?
  • Would you be willing to participate in a research project?
  • Have you partnered on a research project before?
  • What are the reasons that you would be willing to partner with a college or university?
  • What are the reasons that you would not be willing to partner with a college or a university?

Lightsey discussed how Tuscaloosa’s One Place partnered with different universities throughout the state and shared that the organization works with family issues and impacts about 8,500 people, or 2,500 families, per year. She indicated that one of the things that is most impactful for Tuscaloosa’s One Place is having UA faculty members on their board. These members provide oversight to the agency, expertise into programming, research grants and help with fundraising.

Lightsey also reported that there are more than 2,000 student volunteers at Tuscaloosa’s One Place every year. She said that UA interns are always quality interns and they provide invaluable help to her and her team. Additionally, she reported that Tuscaloosa’s One Place can also count those internship hours as match on their grants.

She also indicated that UA does a lot of staff development such as the Doing What Matters conference. She has found that once people get involved in one way, they tend to stay on and begin to get involved in other ways, as well.

Announcements followed. The next Council meeting will take place Wednesday, October 25, from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Bryant Conference Center, Rast B. Spring semester meetings are scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2018, from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Bryant Conference Center, Rast B, and Thursday, March 22, 2018, from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at a location to be determined. The date for the 12th Annual CCBP Awards program is Wednesday April 18, 2018. The time and location are to be announced.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:08 p.m.


The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

Research Team Uses Council Funding to Begin Hobson City History Exploration

By Yiben Liu
CCPB Graduate Assistant

Hobson City is using a methodology known as photovoice to explore the town’s historical preservation while allowing its youth to become engaged in the town’s history and future. Hobson City is a predominantly African-American town of about 800 residents on the outskirts of Anniston in Calhoun County.

According to principal investigator Dr. Michelle Robinson, photovoice is a qualitative participatory action research methodology that combines photography with grassroots social action to facilitate community change and identify and raise awareness of community strengths. The vehicle for this methodology is photography, giving credence to the adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Robinson, who was an assistant professor of English at The University of Alabama at the time, received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant to support the project through spring 2019. She got the idea for the research from Hobson City mayor Alberta McCrory in 2015 when the two met at an event in Florida honoring author Zora Neale Hurston.

Mayor McCrory identified multiple areas for research, of which the team selected three: reconstructing community history, achieving National Registry certification for Hobson City structures and sites and stimulating youth engagement. On two occasions fires destroyed town records, making reconstructing the town’s history difficult.

Beginning in March 2016, Robinson and her team recruited five teen girls involved in local community activities. Three UA graduate students trained the teens and taught them some basic photographic skills such as lighting and angle. Participants used iPads to capture their own experiences within the community and what they learned about the town. They were asked to focus on questions such as “What image comes to mind when you think of Hobson City?”, “What in Hobson City would you like to know more about?”, and “What would you like to see changed in Hobson City?”

“We’re hoping these young ladies come to see themselves as activists or advocates for change in their own communities,” said Robinson.

In fall 2016, an exhibit titled “#blackgirls4change: The Hobson City 9, Cultivating Community and Creating Change” was displayed at the Paul R. Jones Gallery of Art in downtown Tuscaloosa from August 24–September 30. The 29 photographs were taken by the teens, three graduate students and Robinson. A statement articulating the idea of each picture was also on display, and a reception was held at the gallery on September 2.

Following the exhibit, the Robinson team was writing two research papers for peer-reviewed journals, and a second photo session, using 35-millimeter cameras and involving a more diverse group of students, was being planned.

“I like the fact that we are engaged in something that is meaningful beyond the ivory tower of academy. That is actually functioning in a community,” said Dr. Robinson. “That means everything to me.”

Robinson nominated Mayor McCrory for the Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort award for 2016, and the funds from the award, given by the Council on Community-Based Partnerships at its annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards luncheon that year, were used to stage the first photo exhibit.

“We would not have been able to get to that culminating experience without the support from CCBP (the Council),” said Robinson.

Robinson also expressed appreciation for the David G. Bauer Grant Acquisition and Sustainability Program in which she and Mayor McCrory participated. She credited her success in gaining the NEA funding to what she learned in this program. “It was pivotal to this process,” she said. The program was sponsored by the UA Division of Community Affairs through its Center for Community-Based Partnerships.


The Council on Community-Based Partnerships exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Holds Final Meeting of Academic Year

Tuscaloosa, Ala. — The Council on Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) held its final meeting of the academic year Thursday, April 6 in the Bryant Conference Center Birmingham Room on campus.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, education dean and chair of the Council, opened the meeting and welcomed those present. He announced that his College now has a service-grant writer, which is helping raise awareness of the Council across campus.

Dr. Pruitt thanked Dr. Hlebowitsh for committing so much of his time to take over Dean Francko’s position as CCBP chair.

Pruitt went on to share that the Division of Community Affairs recently hosted the spring meeting of its Board of Advisors on campus. The Board is focusing on three core areas. They are student academic retention and success, student entrepreneurship and innovative initiatives, and student global and community leadership. Board members raised funds this year to support students studying abroad, as well as for student entrepreneurship and innovation. Additionally, they have worked with UA Admissions to assist with recruiting efforts, particularly in rural and underrepresented urban areas.

Pruitt also reported that Community Affairs is moving forward with the ACCESS program (see Feb. 16 meeting notes here for information on ACCESS), with plans to display through Google docs the work the CCBP Council is doing at the next Board of Advisors meeting in the fall.

Committee updates followed.

Dr. George Daniels, assistant communication and information sciences dean, announced that this year’s SCOPE Showcase will be combined with the annual CCBP Excellence Awards poster presentation and luncheon event. Additionally, Daniels said the Excellence in Community Engagement Recognition Committee has worked very hard to ensure that the CCBP awards program will be a top-notch event.

Dr. Jen Nickelson, chair of the Academic Conference and Presentation Support Committee, shared that her committee received some excellent travel award applications, four of which were ultimately awarded. She also encouraged applications for the next funding cycle, with that application deadline being Friday, Sept. 15.

Nickelson said the committee also received great poster applications and that there will be 26 posters presented this year at the annual CCBP Excellence Awards luncheon.

Ms. Amanda Waller, Community Partner Support Committee chair, said that Tuscaloosa’s One Place recently distributed a survey to non-profits throughout Alabama to try to figure out how to increase partnerships between universities and nonprofits. She reported that they have received some completed surveys and that she and her team are trying to move forward with a plan utilizing the results.

Updates from the Center for Community-Based Partnerships followed.

Dr. Beverly Hawk spoke to the Council about UA’s Fulbright Scholarship status. Hawk announced that UA has 13 winners for 2017–2018, with the status of three additional applicants pending. She shared that Capstone International will have a Fulbright Day Tuesday, April 11, featuring events for both students and faculty, and that details are available on the Crimson Calendar.

Emphasizing the benefits of a Fulbright Scholarship, Hawk reminded those in attendance that these students have the opportunity to travel overseas, to receive a stipend, and to have their federal student loans frozen during this time. Additionally, she said that most graduate programs will also give them a year’s leave if they wish to participate in Fulbright. She welcomes all applicants who may be interested in obtaining a Fulbright Scholarship in one of the 150 participating countries.

Dr. Jim McLean, CCBP executive director, reported to the Council on the 2016–2017 Grants and Sustainability workshop, from which there were well over $100 million dollars worth of proposals sent out and more than $1 million dollars of proposals already funded.

McLean announced that the workshop has been approved for 2017–2018 and will begin Thursday, Aug. 17 and Friday, Aug. 18 with a class covering government grants and corporate foundation grants. The series of three courses taught during the academic year will focus on evaluating grants within quality circles, doing the team-building required to make grants successful, and fundraising and the sustainability it takes to keep a grant moving forward

This class will be accepting from six to eight teams, plus individuals as space permits. There is a requirement to have one community partner and one university partner as your team leaders, and the final date for applications will be Friday, April 28. David G. Bauer will again lead these workshops. McLean encouraged those who know of interested individuals to contact him.

Reports on engagement scholarship in action followed.

Ms. Lane McLelland, director of the Crossroads Community Engagement Center, spoke to the Council about some of the efforts the Center initiates to create positive interactions among diverse individuals and groups.

During the past several years, she said, as people come to campus from many different paths, at times they simply don’t know how to interact with one another. The Center is utilizing programs that focus on communication, trust-building and relationship-building to help create positive interactions that promote people from different backgrounds coming together. Community service provides an opportunity that supports what they are doing, as does an interfaith soccer team. She stressed that following these types of activities, participants sit down to enjoy a meal together, where they can relax and talk to one another.

Additionally, the Center has created a Sustained Dialogue course that is modeled after the International Sustained Dialogue Institute. Student moderators are trained one day of the week, and then on Thursday of each week, they moderate a dialogue and discuss issues such as gender, LGBTQ, and non-binary discussions. Toward the end of the semester, they move into race issues. Through this course, they are learning together what works for building relationships to deal with hard topics around campus. The Center tries to support any groups who bring awareness of different cultural experiences to campus.

Another initiative of the Center is the Practicing Inclusive Engagement (PIE) workshops. During these workshops, facilitators do not take any presentations or handouts into the room. They just begin with games that work to engage who the participants are. They point out that there are different social identities throughout the room. They talk about intention vs. impact and focus on how to ask questions that promote understanding in dialogue, rather than just arguing with one another. The workshops can be tailored in topic and length to accommodate different groups, and their popularity is growing across campus and beyond. Each year, the Center teaches a class for resident assistants. Additionally, they work with Honors College mentors throughout each semester. They have even taken the workshops on the road to UAB, where they did a workshop for medical professors, and to First United Methodist of Birmingham, where they worked with that church to help members with the work they do in the community.

McLellan shared that Paige Bolden, a member of her staff, is working with the UA Career Center to introduce how important it is to have these dialogues and listening skills as professional skills. Additionally, McLelland is researching how to challenge racist practices on campus, as well as how to help people better understand each other through dialogue.

“Changing norms requires a lot more listening than most of us are comfortable with,” she said. The programs they are utilizing aim to capitalize on newly expanded communications skills — including listening — to help teach people how to come together to engage what we don’t know and what we aren’t comfortable with.

Dr. Jen Nickelson spoke about The Health Lab, a University/community partnership formed to address health issues in Holt, Alabama, and to provide opportunities for students to practice what they learn in the classroom through community-engaged scholarship. Nickelson explained that The Health Lab was begun with seed funds from the Council in 2015–2016, and that Holt was chosen because of its proximity to the University, as well as because there was interest from the community in working with the University.

The lab’s purpose was to create a partnership in Holt, a once-thriving community that was founded on industry and that was no longer thriving because of industries shutting down. People were already leaving to find other jobs when the April 27, 2011 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa County, completely destroying almost 250 homes, more than 100 mobile homes and seven churches, and leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Many of the residents of Holt were displaced following the tornado, and many of those never returned, accelerating the decline of the area.

Following the tornado, FEMA worked with community members on a long-term community plan that focused on housing, infrastructure and jobs. Noticeably absent in the recovery plan was a focus on health.

The first task was to create a needs assessment; then examine the feasibility of expanding this initial project not only in Holt, but elsewhere in Alabama, using it as a model in other low-income communities.

By 2015 the community was ready to start moving away from thinking about the tornado and looking toward the future. The residents loved the idea of The Health Lab and community members worked with students to draft a mission statement. Their first meeting, during which doctoral students worked with community members in team-building activities, took place in August 2015. The students also developed operating norms and bylaws, as well as interviewed community members to try to understand the history of Holt. The community knew they wanted to use a holistic approach to health and wellness to promote the health of the community.

The next steps will be the dissemination of the survey results to the community. Students want to work with youth to identify assets and change in structure/focus as they move toward addressing community-identified needs. The first two items of focus will be litter and diabetes. The longer-term dream is to open a student-run clinic in the community, perhaps in partnership with The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, the University Medical Center, or the Maude Whatley Health Center.

Dean Hlebowitsh presented on behalf of Dr. Kagendo Mutua, the director of CrossingPoints, a program devoted to the education of adults with severe cognitive disabilities. The two-year program brings Tuscaloosa City and County school students ages 18–21, who are still receiving Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) benefits, to CrossingPoints for nine months of the year. Students may have Down syndrome, be on the Autism spectrum, or have no communication abilities.

The program recently secured a $2.4 million grant that will help secure more resources by supporting some new graduate students and faculty members.

Hlebowitsh reported that Mutua is almost single-handedly moving this forward. He also spoke of Betty Shirley, the grandparent of a man who has Down syndrome, who has also been able to help with successes on the advancement front. Thanks to her help, CrossingPoints has $1 million dollars going into an endowed fund to help with program needs, such as the purchase of a handicapped-accessible van.

Looking to the future, CrossingPoints may be able to expand the program even further as they move to make it a tuition-based program that would be open to families across the country.

The three main things CrossingPoints seeks to accomplish are health, dealing with sexuality concerns and being job-ready. The program tries to get students employed with local establishments before they leave the program, which provides them with the dignity of work and a purpose in life.

Announcements followed.

The new faculty tours will take place May 10–12. The hope is to visit the social services and family services available in several of the communities in the Black Belt region of Alabama. The first day will include Greene, Hale, and Tuscaloosa counties. The next day will include Pickens, Sumter, Perry, and Marion Counties. The final day will include Wilcox, Marengo, and Dallas Counties.

The Eleventh Annual CCBP Excellence Awards luncheon will take place Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium.

The SCOPE Student Showcase will also take place on Friday, April 14, at 8:30 a.m. in the Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium. There will be poster presentations and a graduate and undergraduate panel of students speaking on how they have interacted with community engagement programs.

The Gulf South Summit will take place in Birmingham in March 2018.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.


The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama to host 11th Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

Photos depicting 2017 Award Winners and their projects


By Taylor Armer
CCBP Graduate Student Assistant

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama will host its 11th annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards program Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center. The ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. in Sellers Auditorium. There is no charge to attend, and lunch will be provided.

Early arrivers will have the chance to view the Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement (SCOPE) student symposium, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Research poster presentations will immediately follow the symposium at 10 a.m., and posters will remain on display after the luncheon and awards ceremony.

Each spring semester, the Council on Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) recognizes outstanding achievements in engagement scholarship. Student, faculty, staff and their community partners are honored for excellence in community-based research.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, chair of the Executive Committee for the Council, said: “The quality and competition for these awards improve each year. I encourage everyone with an interest in the field of engaged scholarship to come out and give these winners the show of support they deserve. I also urge them to come early to view the student symposium and research posters on display.”

Charles E. Shipman II, a third-year computer science major from Montgomery, will receive the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship award for his work as a student assistant and language partner in CCBP. Shipman’s character and loyalty to the Center are reflective of the late Zach Dodson, the CCBP work-study student for whom the scholarship is named.

The Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar awards, which recognize a faculty member, a student and a community partner for public service and engagement efforts that have improved the quality of life in Alabama over an extended period, will go to:

  • Dr. Pamela Payne–Foster, associate professor of Community and Rural Medicine and deputy director of the Institute for Rural Health Research in the College of Community Health Sciences.
  • Joon Yea Lee, third-year doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences and graduate assistant at CCBP.
  • Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach.

 

Excellence in Engagement Awards will be presented to faculty, staff, students and community partners who have identified needs in the community, developed means to address those needs, acted to achieve outcomes, and demonstrated measured success in achieving those outcomes. The recipients are:

 

  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor of health science.
  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Kagendo Mutua, professor of special education and multiple abilities.
  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. David L. Albright, associate professor of social work.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Allyson Mitchell, undergraduate student in communicative disorders.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Army Lt. Col. John Kilpatrick, social work master’s student.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Ethan Newsome-Jackson, engineering undergraduate student.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Qiaoli Liang of the Chinese Sisterhood program.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — John Tyson Jr., retired Mobile county district attorney.

 

Winners of this year’s $5,000 research seed funds are:

  • Dr. Tania Alameda-Lawson and Dr. Laura Hopson, both from the School of Social Work, for their project Collective Parent Engagement and Service Learning at Davis-Emerson Middle School.
  • Craig Wedderspoon, of the art and art history department, for his project Growing Art.

 

Travel funds to support community engagement research and scholarship will be awarded to:

  • Brenna Sweetman, geography department, to present her work for the Water Conservation and Effective Watershed Management project in Punta Gorda, Belize.
  • Dr. Kevin Andrew Richards and Victoria Shiver, both in the department of kinesiology, to present their project, The Development of an After-School Program for Youth Placed At-Risk: A Collaborative Approach, in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Douglas Craddock Jr., doctoral student in higher education administration, to present his project, From Greensboro to Greensboro, Contrasting Two Community Partnerships to Propel Men of Color to Success, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Calia Torres, doctoral student in psychology, to present her project, Reducing Disparities with Literacy-Adapted Psychosocial Treatments for Chronic Pain: The Effect of the Lamp Intervention on Patients’ Pain and Psychosocial Functioning, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Dr. Safiya George, associate professor in the Capstone College of Nursing, to present her project, Telemedicine Perceptions of Rural Patients With HIV and Mental Health Issues, in Paris, France.

 

Three fellowship awards provided through the Graduate School will be made available in the upcoming 2017–2018 funding cycle. Each fellowship carries a $15,000 stipend payable over fall and spring semesters, a full tuition grant for both semesters and a healthcare stipend. The Community Engagement Graduate Fellowship recipients are:

  • Matthew Price, doctoral student in civil, construction and environmental engineering.
  • Kelsey Ann Dyer, master’s student in special education and multiple abilities.
  • Margaret L. Holloway, doctoral student in English.

 The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”