A Report On Universities and Colleges Reaching Out to Their Communities


More and more universities and college are now reaching out to their respective communities, aiming to make an impact beyond just training students for a good career after graduating, a report says.

According to the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education, there's a growing trend wherein universities and colleges are going beyond their walls to reach out and provide help to their communities.

This current movement, the report says, goes beyond the usual sending of students to do community service through clean-ups and feeding projects. It's about maximizing the resources these institutions have at their disposal: vast amounts of purchasing power, political clout, and research capacity that can be used to find ways to do long-term, even permanent, good.

Ted Howard, co-founder of the Democracy Cooperative, a group which supports the current trend, says institutions can never succeed if their communities are failing. Likewise, he says, communities also fail to succeed if institutions are failing.

One such effort to reach out is that of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis' class called "Planning on Profitable Business." The IUPUI has arranged this class for formerly homeless veterans on Indianapolis' Near West Side, allowing them to practice business presentations which will help them improve their entrepreneurial skills.

Hope Hampton, one of the students in the course, says it's important for the community to hear that institutions aren't about "expanding" and making itself grow big. Rather, these institutions must invest in the community, Hampton says.

Other institutions offer services other than classes and feeding projects. Pittsburgh's Duquesne, for example, runs a community pharmacy. Rutgers University, on the other hand, hosts a branch of the county's public library. IUPUI, in addition to the entrepreneurial class, also runs a dental clinic for veterans and is working on addressing the number of HIV cases in southern Indiana.

Jerry Siegel, who takes part in the IUPUI class, says what the university does is a great way for them to give back to the community where they are situated in.

Such acts of kindness might be more tangible to those who cannot afford higher education, perhaps even more than just making college more accessible to the disadvantaged and those who need more funding.

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