While the Office of Community Engagement supports a range of partnerships, the office seeks to meet identified community needs in five initiative areas in particular. Community assessments have indicated that there is a high level of need in each of these areas, which also coincide with learning outcomes and Morris campus initiatives. A lead partner represents each initiative and serves on the Office of Community Engagement’s advisory board.
Arts and Culture
The arts and culture initiative seeks to deepen the community's appreciation for its unique culture and for the arts and to promote the creativity of all people by:
- providing resources (including volunteer time and special projects) to agencies that support the arts and culture in west central Minnesota;
- planning and creating projects, events, and products that celebrate the culture of west central Minnesota; and
- providing arts programming for a range of ages and in a range of artistic forms.
- The lead partner for this initiative is the Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance.
The elder partnership initiative seeks to involve elders of all ages, walks of life, and with a wide range of abilities more directly in the community through intergenerational partnerships with elder care facilities and individual elders by:
- involving elders and students in reciprocal, educational, and community-building projects that benefit students, elders and the agencies that serve them;
- involving elders with physical and/or cognitive limitations in planned activities that meet particular needs and objectives determined by their families or care staff;
- providing elders and students with opportunities they would otherwise not have to interact with people of various ages and cultures; and
- supporting caretakers with significant resources (particularly volunteer time) that they would otherwise not have.
- The lead partner for this initiative is Legacy Living.
Through the youth partnership initiative, University of Minnesota, Morris students in service-learning courses support young people and the agencies that meet their needs by focusing on the assets of the youth and the agencies that serve them by:
- conducting research and building curricula that address particular needs of schools and young people; and
- planning and implementing educational and recreational activities that enrich the lives of at risk and rural youth and encourage young people in rural areas to celebrate their heritage.
- The lead partner for this initiative is Morris Community Education.
The sustainable living initiative seeks to continue implementing projects and conducting action research related to creating a sustainable community. We aim to do this by:
- planning and implementing events and projects that raise awareness of the health, environmental, and community benefits of purchasing locally grown foods;
- providing more opportunities for individual consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions;
- assisting in research and projects aimed at creating a sustainable small town economic infrastructure.
- The lead partner for this initiative is West Central Regional Development Partnership.
The inclusive community initiative seeks to work toward a truly safe and welcoming community in which all people can be successful by:
- planning and implementing projects and events that raise awareness of the violence, prejudice, and poverty and empower people to work toward ending these roadblocks to community;
- serving the immediate needs of people in poverty, violence survivors, new immigrants, and others who face barriers to being fully included in the life of the community;
- creating opportunities for research, dialogue and action related to poverty, inclusiveness, and violence prevention.