UofM Center for the Study of Higher Education Awarded Contract with Kansas State University to Assess Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program

December 19, 2018 - Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of Memphis received a contract totaling approximately $324,000 to conduct evaluative research for the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program at Kansas State University over a four-year period.

The TAB Program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides education and technical assistance to urban, rural and tribal communities and other stakeholders to address brownfield sites. A brownfield is a property where hazardous contaminants exist or are potentially present. The EPA estimates there are nearly 500,000 Brownfields in the United States. The cleanup and reuse of these properties offers many benefits, including community education and involvement, job growth, increase in local tax bases and improving the environment. The technical assistance provided via this program aims to empower stakeholders through the identification of community educational needs and increase understanding and involvement in brownfield revitalization to help move these properties toward successful reuse.

Past evaluative research on the K-State TAB program, conducted by CSHE director and assistant professor in the Department of Leadership Wendy Griswold, highlighted a need for improved methods to measure community progress towards building capacity to successfully engage in brownfield redevelopment. CSHE’s role is to assist TAB providers in developing measurable ways of evaluating progress and effectiveness to ensure goals of all stakeholders are addressed.

“Through this partnership, we are developing a tool to document and track a community’s progress in developing the skills and expertise needed to navigate the process of returning idle or underused properties into valuable assets for neighborhoods and cities,” said Griswold.

The Community Renewal Readiness Assessment (CoRRA) is a rubric measuring a community’s capacity in six key elements of successful brownfield redevelopment: leadership, partnership, education, tangible change, project management and sustainability. CSHE and K-State TAB are conducting a pilot study to validate CoRRA, with future plans to implement its use in a 21-state service area.

The purpose of the Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) is to study, promote and support life-long learning. This interest extends to both formal and informal post-secondary learning opportunities, to institutional, community and individual efforts and to developmental and organizational needs. With respect to community education, our aim is to support and engage community members through the acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary for sustainable community renewal. Through this process with collaborating organizations, our objective is to promote life-long learning and sustainable change for underserved and environmental justice communities.

Visit Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) for more information. Visit the K-State TAB website at TAG Program for more information about TAB.