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The Strengthening Communities Initiative will not be accepting capacity building or small grant proposals for the 2017-2018 funding cycle. We are currently assessing the program's impact and alignment with sponsor goals and institutional capacity.

Strengthening Communities

This program establishes a national model for strengthening communities by pairing university faculty with community organizations to implement geographically-based projects. Community organizations in west Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and north Mississippi are eligible.

SCI supports projects that address three key goals:

Organizational Capacity Building: SCI supports projects that strengthen and enable the community partner organization to build its structures, systems, people, and skills so that it can achieve greater performance and impact.

Geographically-based Projects: SCI supports projects that clearly identify and impact a defined geographic community; for example a neighborhood, street, housing complex, or work site. However, projects that do not have a geographic focus but instead target a group of people who share a common interest and represent a significantly underserved population will also be considered.

Engaged Scholarship & Student Involvement: SCI supports projects that demonstrate evidence of engaged scholarship and student involvement as a significant component of their project. Engaged scholarship involves faculty members and students in academic projects in a sustained manner with community groups; connects university outreach with community organizational goals; and furthers productive relationships between the university and the community.

Capacity Building Grants


CRuCES (Create Community Engaged Scholarship) - Caritas Village & Dr. Diana Ruggiero, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

This project seeks to provide a method and means for the five distinct cultural groups located in Binghampton to sustain and to grow a self-determinant adaptive cultural identity in order to enable their continued assimilation, in their own terms, into the larger cultural and economic communities by mining indigenous creative skills for their own economic benefit. By using a microeconomic model, each ethnic community will collectively design, produce and market cultural products to be sold.

Women's Empowerment Group - Friends for Life & Dr. Robin Lennon-Dearing/Department of Social Work

The Women's Empowerment Group project proposes to empower thirty (30) women living with HIV resulting in improved health outcomes through participation in a 16-week innovative two-part group intervention. Part one of the intervention teaches women cognitive behavioral skills to increase their ability to cope and reduce depression. Part two uses photovoice, a photography method whereby clients who lack power and voice take pictures to share their experiences, dialog about the photographs, and use the photographs as a platform for policy change. The intervention culminates with participants sharing photographs and stories with policy makers or community leaders via exhibits and presentations. The outcome of this project is the improved health and wellbeing of women living with HIV in Shelby County, resulting in better health outcomes for themselves, their families, and the community. More here

MORE 2015-2016 Frayser ASD Program Development and Assessment - Mississippi River Corridor – & Drs. Leigh Harrell-Williams and Christian Mueller/Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research

The MORE program was initially conceived in 2012 with the purpose of expanding early learning opportunities for students through an experiential education curriculum. In the spring of 2015, staff from the MRCT and the University of Memphis formed a strong partnership in an effort to re-evaluate, measure and enhance the MORE program to increase its sustainability and community support. This unique experiential education format has the potential to serve as a model for other organizations interested in teaching economically challenged children about environmental issues, science and potential career paths in those fields.


TigerCrew – CodeCrew and Dr. Vinhthuy Phan, Department of Computer Science

The TigerCrew education initiative seeks to equip high school students in the Binghampton area with the skills and experience to fully participate in the increasingly STEM-reliant economy. TigerCrew will introduce computer science skills and concepts via a highly relevant, sophisticated computer game development platform. This will teach hard technical skills, including mastery of programming concepts, game-development, and understanding of algorithms and computational thinking. It will also teach soft skills, including leadership, public speaking, organization, and the project life cycle including design, requirements building, solution developing, testing, and launch.

Parenting for Success - Binghampton Development Corporation

The Parenting for Success project brings refugee parents and pre-school aged children together to help parents integrate into the culture of the U.S., and encourage school readiness in young children. For the refugee families there are advantages and disadvantages of raising children in a new culture including changes in discipline and respect, new family roles and values, increasing independence and decreasing interdependence on family, and the delicate balancing of two cultures. Consequently, there is value in melding together a diverse variety of knowledge and skills that engage parents from refugee backgrounds in ways that enhance their ability to parent in this country. This project will implement the REP parenting curriculum, which was developed through an SCI small grant. It will utilize two refugee parents as facilitators of the parenting curriculum.


Strengthening Communities Initiative