BRISTOL, R.I., – As the fall semester gets under way, the Community Partnerships Center (CPC) at Roger Williams University has started work on 27 new projects, serving more than a dozen local communities, including a wide scope of new ventures – from neighborhood revitalization plans in East Providence to environmental sustainability planning in Portsmouth. The new projects broaden the CPC’s scope of work to date to more than 30 disciplines and expand its presence regionally with new nonprofit partners in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.
The CPC pairs students and faculty with local nonprofits, municipalities and other organizations to tackle community projects that require specialized expertise or additional resources. Students apply classroom learning and gain real-world experience by engaging in community projects such as economic development research and planning, public policy formulation, architectural design and urban planning. In its first two years, the CPC led 50 community projects with 35 partner organizations, allowing more than 500 RWU students to gain real-world experience and job-ready skills.
As it enters its third year, the CPC project participants have continuously witnessed how partner organizations have used students’ accomplishments as springboards to launch new strategic plans, attract donors, increase funding or apply for grants to support new initiatives. Last spring, for example, business students at Roger Williams helped the Town of Bristol determine if transforming its historic Naval Armory building into a maritime welcome center for boaters was financially feasible and economically beneficial. The students found the project financially sound and as a result, the Town of Bristol recently landed an $860,000 boating infrastructure grant to fund the creation of the maritime center.
“Our students and faculty apply expertise and skills across a wide discipline of areas, from architecture and community development to business, marketing and web development,” says CPC Director Arnold Robinson. “The CPC successfully combines our faculty’s expert knowledge with the students’ eagerness for real-world experience to drive impactful project results. With more than 50 projects to date, we’ve seen firsthand how our nonprofit partners have leveraged the students’ work, whether market research or environmental sustainability planning, to further drive their organization’s mission forward.”
Students and faculty will be collaborating with the following local organizations this fall:
- Barnstable Land Trust, Marstons Mills, Mass. – Students will create a rehabilitation plan for the historic Fuller Farm farmhouse to help preserve the historical landmark on Cape Cod.
- Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, Central Falls – The project will research the history of Jenks Park and the Cogswell Tower. Students will create a cultural landscape report including potential design and preservation recommendations to inform the City’s design decisions moving forward.
- City of East Providence – The project will assess the potential creation of an Arts and Entertainment district in East Providence. Students will speak with Rhode Island residents living and working in A&E districts as well as meet with local organizations and state representatives to identify the level of political support behind its development. A second project will evaluate the feasibility of developing an arts and/or business partnership to help create the A&E district.
- Community Preparatory School, Providence – Students will create a new marketing communications strategy for the school aimed at reaching new audiences and attracting more donors. A second project will help create an effective marketing strategy for engaging alumni by identifying best practices among successful alumni programs.
- Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust, Dartmouth, Mass. – The project will help develop curriculum and education programming for local 5th grade students learning about local history by using living history concepts such as photographs and objects from local historical houses.
- Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol – Students will pursue three projects with the museum including researching the history of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, incorporating analysis of its business model and documenting its oral history. Graphic design students will also create a project plan to help the museum enhance its brand identity.
- Island Commons, Portsmouth – Students will lead two projects with Island Commons. One project will assess its farmland to help identify sustainable agriculture policies and best practices. The second project will focus on historic preservation and refurbishment of St. Mary’s old parish house.
- Literacy Volunteers of Washington County, Westerly – Students will lead two projects including the creation of a design standards style manual and logo to drive the organization’s brand identity. A second project will help create a new website with a focus on cultivating donors and volunteers.
- Mount Hope Farm, Bristol – The project will identify, organize and archive historical documents. Students will also help to prioritize which documents to begin digitizing in an online archive.
- North Attleboro Historical Commission, North Attleboro, Mass. – Students will conduct a historic building assessment and create a structure report with preservation guidelines for the rehabilitation of the barn at Codding Farm.
- City of Pawtucket – Students learning Geographic Information System (GIS), a tool for creating maps and conducting spatial analyses, will create an online database that electronically maps and catalogs the memorial trees in Slater Park.
- Providence Athenaeum Library – Students will document the building and grounds to create an up-to-date physical plant model that would serve as an interactive tool for stewardship of the building into the future.
- Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy, Warwick – Students will create a customized PowerPoint template designed specifically for the organization to use for communication and marketing purposes with a focus on addressing a variety of diverse audiences.
- Rhode Island Medical Legal Partnership, Warwick – Students will create a customized PowerPoint template for the organization to use for communication and marketing purposes.
- Mental Health Association of Rhode Island – The project will help create and execute a survey focused on the current state of the Rhode Island criminal justice system as it relates to the needs of those challenged with mental illness.
- Sophia Academy, Providence – Students will help develop a design to revitalize the roof garden, and examine the potential costs and necessary fundraising strategies for the project.
- Town of Bristol – Students will create a Bristol waterfront development plan with conceptual specifications for the waterfront boardwalk, including proposed cost estimates and recommended phases for its future implementation.
- Trinity Restoration, Inc., Providence – Students will conduct a feasibility and economic impact study to inform Trinity’s reuse plans for the South Side Cultural Center.
- Warren Baptist Church – Students will develop a marketing plan to promote the church’s historic property as a venue for weddings, music events and other occasions. A second project will focus on restoring and preserving the Church’s unique building structure.
- YouthBuild Providence – The project will produce a comprehensive public relations campaign optimizing the organization’s website, social media use and other communication materials such as those used to engage and inform its key constituents.
The Community Partnerships Center conducts a call for projects from community organizations on a bi-annual basis and will be seeking new projects for the next academic year by October 1, 2013. To submit a CPC Project Assistance Application, visit http://rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/cpc/collaborative-opportunities-projects/inquiry-process. To learn more about the CPC, visit http://rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/cpc.