Bates receives national grant for community-based research fellowships

Bates College is one of 11 institutions of higher education named by the National Community-Based Research Networking Initiative to receive funding for innovative community-based research projects.

Of nearly 100 proposals submitted to the NCBRN, these 11 were selected for their innovation and anticipated contributions to the field of community-based research that engages faculty, students and community stakeholders in creating social change.

Each project is built on the foundation of a strong existing CBR program that will provide the infrastructure necessary to involve students, faculty and community partners in innovative research projects that will be developed, documented and shared through grant funding.

“We are particularly enthusiastic about this project because it yokes Bates’ commitments to rigorous undergraduate research and to substantive community partnership, empowering students to bring each to the service of the other,” says Anna Sims Bartel, associate director of Bates’ Harward Center for Community Partnerships. Bartel led the crafting of the proposal.

The Harward Center maintains partnerships, many spanning a decade or more, with more than 120 community organizations. This community work was nurtured early on through the Bates Center for Service-Learning, established in 1995 as one of the first of its kind. The commitment to community partnerships was extended by the 2005 formation of the Harward Center, which now houses the Service-Learning Program.

The Bates proposal features “The CBR Fellowship Experience,” academic-year and summer CBR student fellowships that will serve as part of a developmental model for civic engagement.

Harward Center CBR Fellows will have access to funding, faculty and Harward support during the summer as well as the academic year to develop and execute substantive, collaborative community-based research projects.

A CBR fellowship will often be the culminating project in a student’s civic engagement. These upper-level students will also have experience in research methods and community partnerships, allowing them to expand and deepen existing Harward Center partnerships. Finally, CBR Fellows will benefit other students, sharing their own knowledge about the surrounding community and partner organizations.

As CBR Fellows, students will benefit from and enrich a vibrant network of campus-community partnerships, experience the close mentorship of faculty and become part of a growing cohort of students engaged in community work through HCCP. As Bates and Lewiston benefit from this work, so will the national CBR community, as Bates develops and shares training, support and reflection materials for other institutions to support similar programs.

In addition to Bates, the institutions whose projects were selected are: Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.; Berea College, Berea, Ky.; Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.; Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas; Tufts University, Somerville, Mass.; University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif.; University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.; Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, N.C.; and Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.

In being awarded innovation grants, these 11 institutions join the National CBR Networking Initiative, a larger network of community-based research practitioners funded by Learn & Serve America and spearheaded by Princeton University and the Bonner Foundation. This initiative is coordinated by Princeton University’s Community-Based Learning Initiative and will generate a range of best-practice tools and resources, including Websites, manuals and data valuable to students, faculty and the community.

Innovation subgrantees, such as the Harward Center, will make significant contributions to this network as they develop and share new models for community-based research, as well as tools and resources to support other institutions in implementing them.

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