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CPC Springs into the Semester with 37 New Community Projects

RI Commerce Corp., City of Central Falls and Providence Redevelopment Agency among partners working with CPC to tap into student and faculty expertise

BRISTOL, R.I. – With students and faculty embarking on 37 new projects serving Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts communities (from Newport and Bristol to Central Falls and Woonsocket), the Community Partnerships Center at Roger Williams University has surpassed 100 community projects to date. Nearly 30 local agencies and nonprofits – from the public sector, education, healthcare and other sectors – are partnering with RWU teams on a wide scope of new projects including (among others) market research, mill redevelopment feasibility studies and affordable housing design plans.

The spring semester also marks further collaboration between the CPC and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation as the two organizations partner to explore potential redevelopment plans for the former site of The Conant Thread Company and Coats & Clark Mill Complex, located on the border of Pawtucket and Central Falls. Business, architecture and historic preservation students from Roger Williams will produce a list of redevelopment recommendations to city officials as well as examine the site as a potential case study for identifying the redevelopment potential of other urban sites across the state.

Other projects this spring include a collaboration with the Providence Redevelopment Agency to research and develop a potential food center in Providence. Among the many projects in the East Bay, students will aid the Barrington Senior Center to create a social media resource guide for senior citizens; and in Bristol, the Town’s recycling committee will work with students studying sustainability to analyze and improve recycling rates among residents.

The wide scope of projects range across multiple disciplines and community initiatives from policy research and the creation of a Growth Center proposal for the City of Central Falls, to creating rural affordable housing design concepts for the Westport Affordable Housing Trust Fund. For the full list of projects, please visit the Community Partnerships Center website at www.rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/cpc/projects.

“Each semester, we’ve seen the scope and variety of projects from our partners grow across new disciplines but also in complexity, and we’re pleased to offer these real-world challenges to our students who bring a level of enthusiasm, professionalism and fresh thinking that continues to surpass our partners expectations,” says CPC Director Arnold Robinson. “It’s the students’ hard work and impactful project results that drive the success of CPC, and we’re thrilled to start yet another semester with new nonprofit partners and important projects that will have a lasting impact on our local communities.”

With 100 community projects in less than three years, the CPC is addressing real community needs by offering local nonprofits, municipalities and other organizations specialized expertise and resources while simultaneously allowing students to apply classroom learning and gain real-world experience. As a result, many CPC partner organizations have used the students’ accomplishments as springboards to launch new strategic plans, attract donors, increase funding or apply for grants to support new initiatives. The East Bay Coalition for the Homeless launched a freshly branded marketing strategy last year designed to increase donations and public support, and based on research, web design and marketing plans that RWU students created as part of their coursework.

“Working with them was like working with a professional marketing firm – we were their client, they gave us plans based on real research and listened to our comments and concerns,” says Diane Smith, director of the East Bay Coalition for the Homeless. “The final product exceeded our expectations. They not only gave us a marketing plan based on real surveys and best practices, but provided us with a new logo and website that is user-friendly, easily accessible and compelling.”

The Community Partnerships Center conducts a call for projects from community organizations on a bi-annual basis and is seeking new projects for the next academic year by March 3, 2014. To submit a CPC Project Assistance Application, visit www.rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/cpc/collaborative-opportunities-projects/inquiry-process. To learn more about the CPC, visit www.rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/cpc