The following list does not comprise all the collaboratories that the Center supports, but it provides an overview of some of our most exciting community partnerships.
Community Food Assessment: Local Food for Lewiston
Over the past four years, various strands of coursework, community-engaged research, student volunteerism, and summer projects have come together in sustained attention to addressing the issues of availability, affordability, and accessibility of healthy, culturally appropriate food. During the past summer and academic year, substantive research and assessment work around the issues of food insecurity, food security, and the creation of healthy, sustainable, local food systems converged, and local community food work entered Phase II of the project. With the completion of most of the research for the community food assessment completed in the fall of 2010, Local Food for Lewiston began to transition to the next phase of the project: developing solutions to local issues based on research and community participation.
The data collected over the past three years is providing a platform for developing community-engaged creative, inclusive and multifaceted solutions to these issues (Phase II). Local Food for Lewiston serves as an innovative model, both locally and nationally, of how to assess and address community needs around food security and how to develop and implement sustainable community-engaged solutions.
Downtown Education Collaborative (DEC)
A joint effort of the four public and private colleges in Lewiston-Auburn and the Lewiston Public Library and Lewiston Adult Education program, DEC pursues community-engaged educational work in Lewiston’s downtown neighborhood, one of the poorest in the state, which is home to a diversity of new Mainers from Africa and working-class Mainers. Since its launch four years ago, DEC has become a vibrant presence in the downtown, and Sherry Russell, its director, a trusted and valued member of the community’s educational leaders.
DEC has launched an array of programs, projects and activities including: an Academic Success Program that directly supports school success for several hundred Lewiston youth annually; a Digital Divide program that provides computer and Internet access and one-on-one mentoring and skill building for community members at two designated computer labs in downtown Lewiston six days a week; annual summer camps that help youth develop voice and build leadership skills and college aspirations; a video project that connects at risk high school students, college students and a local documentarian; and, sponsored innovative modular origami workshops for local teachers and professionals. DEC also facilitates a cross campus group of faculty and staff in early childhood education and development who are exploring possibilities for combining resources (curricular as well as project-based) to enhance the development of strong early childhood programs – and educators – in Lewiston. DEC also hosts an array of workshops, clinics and practica in its downtown center, a welcoming space that connects the community and the colleges through dialogue and action.
Schools, Literacy and Education
Our educational partnerships continue to be an important cornerstone of community-engaged work at Bates College, with hundreds of students working in the local public schools and after-school programs, as volunteers, paid community work-study students, or as a part of their academic coursework. In addition to individual work in classrooms and homework help programs, Bates students participated in a variety of strategic literacy and enrichment projects. Among many other education-related activities, Bates students:
- developed and led book groups at two after-school programs, at the Trinity Jubilee Center and Longley Elementary School;
- helped to write a grant to enable a local organization to expand its adult citizenship classes;
- developed a story-telling project for refugee middle-school students and their families;
- piloted Boys and Girls Club programming at a low-income housing complex; and
- implemented a program called “Lunch Bunch” at a local elementary school designed to provide a safe space for students to discuss gang activity.