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The power of partnership: universities and communities connect to tackle common challenges


Austin Fitzgerald

UM System Community Connect websites tell the stories of partnerships with communities across the state and highlight ways to get involved

Today, just ahead of Extension and Engagement Week 2020 (Oct. 26-30), the University of Missouri System and each of its four universities launched their Community Connect platforms — tools designed to improve opportunities for communication and connection between the universities and various populations in the communities they serve.

“Whether it’s finding impact data on education and wellness programs, learning about university resources you can bring to your community, or finding opportunities to engage with university events and faculty, Community Connect makes the universities more accessible to the people they serve,” said Marshall Stewart, chief engagement officer for the UM System.

Examples include the following:

PARTNERSHIPS: At the University of Missouri, the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab works with the Missouri Department of Conservation to test deer harvested throughout Missouri for chronic wasting disease.

IMPACT: At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Adult Continuing Education for Adults with Disabilities program, or ACED, offers adults with developmental disabilities opportunities to attend non-credit classes in university settings. ACED encourages students to achieve individual goals by participating in life and skills enrichment classes in an educational and social environment.

CONNECTIONS: Events like Celebration of Nations at Missouri University of Science and Technology bring people together — even if virtually. Celebration of Nations gives area residents and Missouri S&T students the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the vibrant cultural diversity that makes Rolla unique to the Ozarks.

RESOURCES: The Mental Health First Aid course at the University of Missouri-St. Louis teaches parents, caregivers, teachers and others how to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance abuse.

POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS: In addition to the connections and partnerships each university is building in its local communities, the UM System is mobilizing the assets of all four universities to tackle Missouri’s grand challenges. Systemwide initiatives in health care and broadband are aimed at moving the needle for Missourians’ health and education outcomes.

Each Community Connect website features stories about community engagement, upcoming events, resources, services and campus contacts to support and facilitate community conversations. Each site also includes an Impact Report — key data about the impact universities are making in their communities. At the UM System level, users can sort data by county or legislative district to see the programs, opportunities and impact data in targeted area.

The platforms were developed in partnership with the MU Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems, the team that also manages the data that powers the impact reports.

Learn more about UM System engagement efforts during Extension and Engagement Week 2020.

Reviewed 2020-10-15