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

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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

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.