Since its creation in 1995, the University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns has been a community outreach program that serves as a point of entry to resources throughout the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, K-12 schools, non-profit organizations, and other University units have utilized CST’s resources when working on rural issues or making contributions to rural society.
Over the past two decades, CST has assisted a multitude of rural communities and has involved over 650 students and faculty in actively assisting and providing resources for small communities. Today, the Center for Small Towns still believes in a bright future for small towns and is marshaling University resources to help achieve that goal.
Some major highlights include:
- From 1998 to 2000, CST worked cooperatively with the Blandin Foundation's Community Investment Partnership Program, which facilitated a multitude of sit-down discussions among community members. Subsequently, small, focused groups formed, allowing community members to focus on certain issues pertaining to their communities. From these discussions, projects were developed to target the needs addressed in these discussions.
- In 2003, CST launched its biennial Symposium on Small Towns, a convening event that brings together rural development professionals, small town officials, and other stakeholders, to discuss and analyze significant challenges and opportunities facing the region.
- In 2006, CST was awarded the Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter Partnership Award for exemplary campus-community collaboration with the City of Morris.
- In 2013, CST was awarded a $150,000 operating grant from the Otto Bremer foundation to help support and propel new projects and innovations from CST.
- In June 2013, CST, along with Springboard for the Arts, brought together 280 attendees for the 2013 Rural Arts and Culture Summit at the University of Minnesota, Morris campus to participate in a two-day conference focusing on leveraging art and culture as tools of economic development in small towns. The Summit drew statewide and national attention, with fresh and new ideas being generated by participants.