North Minneapolis and University District neighborhoods have been chosen as inaugural sites for the University of Minnesota Metropolitan Engagement Zones initiative. The initiative is built on the premise that community priorities can be more effectively addressed when the work of community-University projects are aligned, coordinated, and mutually supportive. Specifically, the initiative aims to develop strategies for advancing the coordination of partnerships with the goal of strengthening community-University projects operating within a particular metropolitan neighborhood or region and demonstrating the collective impact of community-University partnerships in these specific geographic regions.
The University’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center (UROC) will serve as facilitator for the Northside Engagement Zone in North Minneapolis; the University District Alliance will serve as facilitator for the University District Engagement Zone. The Zone teams will work closely with existing community-University partnerships to develop models for expanding current networks and relationships.
North Minneapolis Engagement Zone
The North Minneapolis Zone seeks to build upon and expand the function and reach of UROC’s Community Affairs Committee (CAC). This body was a pillar of the University Northside Partnership and was also central to the early planning and formation of UROC. It is part of UROC’s commitment to community connection, transparency and shared visioning. The Engagement Zone will allow us co-create a coordination function through the CAC that will lead to greater alignment of University-community work, not only at UROC, but across North Minneapolis.
The initial geographic scope of this Engagement Zone is the Minneapolis communities of Near North and Camden, collectively known as north Minneapolis or the “Northside.” For the Engagement Zone, we work with these neighborhoods to develop models that are applicable within the urban core of the Twin Cities and the first-ring suburbs.
University District Engagement Zone
The University District communities are home to the highest proportion of youth and young adults in the metro area, and thousands of first-generation immigrant families. There is currently engaged work taking place in the University District communities, but there is no systematic way for community members or faculty and students to access information about what is currently underway, or contacts for potential new engagement, or information about outcomes that could inform new engaged work. The University District Engagement Zone seeks to create access to information (what can community-University engagement look like and who’s doing it?), access to people (who do we need to contact and how?), and a place or platform to seek collaboration.
The geographic scope of the Engagement Zone includes neighborhoods and commercial communities adjacent to the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis: Cedar-Riverside/West Bank, Marcy-Holmes, Dinkytown, Prospect Park, Stadium Village, and Southeast Como.