Community Engagement Awards and Grants Celebrate University-Community Partnerships
University Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Council for Community Engagement has awarded one-year grants of up to $20,000 to seven university-community programs, which support interdisciplinary projects to enhance and increase university engagement with the greater Richmond community and will contribute to the research and teaching of VCU units.
Since 2007, 38 grants have been awarded through the program.
This year, the Community Engagement grant awards were announced at a reception for university and community partners on May 8 at the University Student Commons.
“What today is about is acknowledging the wonderful university and community partnerships that we share,” said Cathy Howard, vice provost of the Division of Community Engagement.
Other speakers reflected on the university’s culture of community engagement.
“We’re a major urban academic and medical institution,” said Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., CEO of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System and vice president for VCU Health Sciences. “I can’t think of anything more important than being engaged in the community.”
The seven grantees were selected from a group of applicants representing programs on both campuses. Grants were awarded to:
Animal-Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism, a partnership of the VCU departments of psychiatry and psychology and the Faison School to address the education needs of children with autism spectrum disorders through animal-assisted therapy.
Barriers and Facilitators to Breastfeeding among Low-Income African-American Women, which is a collaboration of the departments of epidemiology and community health, social and behavioral health and psychology and the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative and Richmond Department of Social Services. The group will conduct a study to gain a deeper understanding of why low-income African-American women in the City of Richmond participate in breastfeeding well below the state average.
CMoR Learning: Developing Interdisciplinary Partnerships for an Inclusive Learning Community, in which the Department of Occupational Therapy, the School of Education and the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU work with the Children’s Museum of Richmond to assess and adapt the physical and learning environment and develop collaborative training to support the engagement of young children with disabilities and their families.
Community Health and Wellness Program for Older Adults, a collaboration among the departments of internal medicine; pharmacotherapy and outcomes science; pediatrics; adult health and nursing systems; the School of Social Work and Dominion Place Apartments to conduct a brief intervention focused on diabetes and hypertension to address the wellness and chronic disease management of community elders.
Middle of Broad + Storefront = MoBS, a collaboration of the School of the Arts and the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs to empower traditionally marginalized residents, entrepreneurs and communities in the City of Richmond to participate fully in the design and development of their communities through increased access to design services, resources and education through both service-oriented design internships and participation in the MoB Experimental Design Studio.
Mosby Leadership Program, a partnership of the Center on Health Disparities, the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services and the Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority to extend the current Mosby’s Community Health Connections (MCHC) partnership, which aims to increase leadership skills and health disparities knowledge and the self-efficacy of Mosby residents; to increase the number of trained resident leaders providing service in the Mosby community; and to train VCU students to serve as mentors and coaches for leadership program participants.
VCU – Richmond Collaborative Bicyclists Education: A Comparison of Formal Courseand Independent Training, a partnership of the Department of Physical Therapy, the Urban and Regional Planning program, the Office of Sustainability and the City of Richmond’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, Trails program to increase sage bicycling usage at VCU and in Richmond by developing a multi-mode bicyclist education program.
The Council for Community Engagement also recognized three outstanding university-community partnerships, including one that also was designated this year’s “Currents of Change” award winner.
The award for exemplary partnership in teaching went to Open Minds: Shared Inquiries, Shared Hope, which enables prisoners at the Richmond City Jail and students at VCU to take college courses in English, religion, women’s studies and African-American studies. By taking courses together, students from both groups learn how to dialogue respectfully and imaginatively about their shared humanity, to write creatively and analytically and to link the liberal arts to personal experience and ethical ways of living.
The award for exemplary partnership in research went to Partnering to Promote Maternal Mental Health: The Enhanced Engagement Model of Maternal and Child Health Home Visiting, to support Children’s Health Involving Parents of Greater Richmond’s services for low-income mothers by evaluating an innovative model of team-delivered mental health services that is relevant and responsive to the mental health needs of low-income mothers and thus improve the impact of other existing parenting support services offered through CHIP.
The award for exemplary partnership in service went to Una Vida Sana! – Assessing and Improving the Health Status of Richmond’s Hispanic Community Through Health Professional Student Service-Learning, which provides mobile, community-based, cardio-metabolic disease (diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol) screening services in the City of Richmond and immediately adjacent counties by partnering with local institutions to facilitate access to the local community. During each event, VCU health professions students, assisted by medical Spanish interpreters, provide health screenings and consult with those patients who need definitive medical care.
Una Vida Sana! – Assessing and Improving the Health Status of Richmond’s Hispanic Community Through Health Professional Student Service-Learning also received the “Currents of Change” award for overall excellence.
The “Currents of Change” winner received an autographed and framed limited-edition print of the “STAR,” a watercolor by W. Baxter Perkinson, D.D.S., a School of Dentistry alumnus, former rector of the Board of Visitors and current vice president of the VCU Health System Authority.