Center for Youth and Communities

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Higher Education and University-Community Partnerships


Center staff engage in a variety of research, evaluation, and capacity building activities aimed at broadening access to and enhancing success in higher education and improving the effectiveness of university-community partnerships.  Projects include:

  • Evaluation of The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Community College Transfer Initiative, a multi-year project intended to increase access to selective four-year colleges and universities by academically talented low and middle income community college students.  The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods and included students, faculty, and administrators at the eight four-year institutions and at selected community college partners.
  • Evaluation of the  Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Project Compass, a four-campus, multi-year initiative designed to improve the retention and academic success of low-income and first generation college students.  The largely qualitative evaluation is focused on documenting the change process at the participating campuses.
  • Reversing the Telescope, a study of how universities can strengthen their community impacts by looking at the "civic microcosm" within the university community.  With a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Center and the New England Resource Center for Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts-Boston examined ways in which universities could pursue community development goals by focusing on the lowest paid campus employees, who often live in the communities the institution purports to serve.  The project included interviews and group discussions with higher education leaders, developing written materials and programmatic examples, and forming strategic partnerships with influential groups who could mobilize institutions to develop innovative programs that respond to local needs.
  • The Center was a research and convening partner with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to consider how engaged higher education institutions (HEI) can enhance education and achievement for vulnerable youth.  Among other activities, the Center produced an internal report, based on extensive research and interviews, which described the range of HEI activities aimed at helping vulnerable youth learn and achieve.  The report included profiles of noteworthy programs and strategies; analyzed programmatic approaches, community engagement levels, and target groups across HEI types; discussed relevant networks, policy issues, and best practices; and included an appendix of resources.

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