Partnerships Strengthen Communities

Strengthening Communities Initiative: Capacity Building Grants

This is no longer an active initiative

The Strengthening Communities Initiative (SCI) ran from 2008-2016 and provided funding to support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative community projects that build the capacity of grassroots and community-based organizations. These projects seek to address economic development, education, health, housing, transportation, and safety issues. Capacity Building Grants are awarded to teams, consisting of nonprofits, community-based organizations, and/or grassroots groups and University of Memphis faculty and students, for projects that are framed by engaged scholarship. The SCI Capacity Building Grant awards, of up to $18,500, are offered annually in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, United Way of the Mid-South, and the University of Memphis Engaged Scholarship Faculty Committee.

Three Key Goals

  1. 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. Capacity Building activities include:

    • Evaluation of Organization’s Core Services
    • Improvement of Organization’s Program Delivery
    • Organizational or Community Assets & Needs Assessments
    • Strategic Collaborations
    • Technology Skills, Training, and Implementation
    • Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Planning
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Learn more about these university/community projects and the grant making collaboration between the University of Memphis, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and the United Way in the video below:

2014 Capacity Building Grant Recipients

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Memphis and Shelby County Healthy Homes Partnership

SCI funds will be used to build the capacity of the Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP), an emerging initiative to reform local housing or health codes in Memphis/Shelby County in order to better protect occupants from environmental health hazards in substandard housing. HHP plans to purposefully engage and empower individuals and families affected by lead poisoning and asthma to be advocates for reform through outreach, education, and support from agencies serving them at home and in the community.

Nonprofit Community Org: Le Bonheur Community Health and Well-Being (LCHWB), a division of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, was established in 2005 to promote the hospital’s community-based programs.

Faculty Partner: Amy T. Campbell, Associate Professor of Law & Director, Health Law Institute, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

The Madison-Eckles Family Cemetery Restoration and Participatory Community Greenspace Design

The Madison-Eckles Family Cemetery, a small, historic graveyard located in the heart of the Normal Station neighborhood, has been the victim of several decades of vandalism and neglect. SCI funds will be used to stabilize the cemetery property and advance the NSNA’s efforts to transform it into a positive neighborhood greenspace.

Nonprofit Community Org: The Normal Station Neighborhood Association (NSNA) is a voluntary association of the residents of the Normal Station neighborhood in the 38111 area code of Memphis.

Faculty Partner: Michael Chisamore, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture

NeighborScape Demonstration Garden

SCI funds will be used for the creation of a NeighborScape Demonstration Garden and accompanying curriculum to provide participants in UHI’s Homebuyer Education course the opportunity to learn about environmentally-sustainable lawn maintenance and vegetable gardening.

Nonprofit Community Org: United Housing, Inc. is a nonprofit housing agency that provides services in support of sustainable homeownership to families that are underserved by the traditional homeownership industry in West Tennessee.

Faculty Partner: Jennifer Thompson, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture

2013 Capacity Building Grant Recipients
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Strengthening Community Gardens: an iteration evaluation for GrowMemphis’ Community Gardening 101 Training Program

SCI funds will be used to launch a comprehensive community gardening start-up training program as well as assess the impact of the Community Gardening 101 training and measure the impact of new gardens on the surrounding community.

Nonprofit Community Org: GrowMemphis partners with communities in Memphis and Shelby County to promote a sustainable local food system.

Faculty Partner: Alison Happel, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research

Partnership for Educational Advocacy and Parity (PEAP)

SCI funds will be used to train parents, guardians, and professionals who work with students with disabilities to advocate for the services and procedural processes that are guaranteed under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Nonprofit Community Org: Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. is the primary provider of civil legal representation to low income families in the western Tennessee counties of Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale.

Faculty Partner: Susan L. Neely-Barnes, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work

Performing for Peace: Playback Theatre in the Strengthening of Police-Community Relations

SCI funds will be used to create model programming for building youth/police relations that can be replicated by government agencies, universities, and Playback theatre companies in cities with similar demographics.

Nonprofit Community Org: Playback Memphis creates space for people to experience a high level of connectivity, communication, and empathy through the act of storytelling.

Faculty Partner: Robert A. Neimeyer, Professor, Department of Psychology

“Make it Count” Market Research Plan at Shelby Farms Park

SCI funds will be used (1) to offer a reliable estimate of the number and patterns of annual visits the Park receives currently and, (2) to describe the nature of Park use, characteristics of the Park’s visitors, and their perceptions and attitudes about the Park.

Nonprofit Community Org: Shelby Farms Park Conservancy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that manages and operates Shelby Farms Park + Shelby Farms Greenline through a public-private partnership with Shelby County Government.

Faculty Partner: Michael Huffman, Associate Professor, School of Health Studies