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Map of Minneapolis showing Northside.

The Northside of Minneapolis (shaded area) is home to about 63,000 residents.

FIPSE awards $750,000 to U for Northside partnership

By Rick Moore

October 25, 2007

A $750,000 grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) has been awarded to Senior Vice President Robert Jones and Associate Vice President Geoff Maruyama to develop collaborations as part of the University Northside Partnership (UNP).

UNP is an effort aimed at helping address some of the social and economic challenges facing the Northside community in Minneapolis, which is home to some 63,000 residents. The U's many partners include NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, Northway Community Trust, City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the Coalition of Black Churches.

The three-year grant, which begins in November, will be used to create a first-of-its-kind Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center (UROC). This new UROC model would be the urban equivalent of one of the University's highly successful research and outreach centers (ROC), which are hubs for public engagement with rural communities.

"We need a coherent 21st century urban agenda," Jones told the U's Board of Regents in a presentation about UNP in February. "Why? Because we live in an urban age." The ROC model, Jones adds, is "a good way of thinking about this, and better coordinating our resources to bring about systemic change."

"The [Northside] has tremendous untapped assets and resources," says Taylor. "This is a great opportunity for the U to assist that community in actualizing its potential. And that's exciting."

The U will bring a host of resources--along with a prized recruit--to bear on the partnership. One issue greatly affecting the Northside is the number of children in foster care. To help address this concern, the University hired Dante Cicchetti as the new McKnight Presidential Chair and professor in the Institute of Child Development and Department of Psychiatry. Cicchetti developed a program at the University of Rochester in New York that significantly reduced the number of children placed in foster care, and he will bring his expertise to the new Child and Family Center on the Northside, which will partner with NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center.

The College of Education and Human Development will also be extensively involved with the partnership.

While in the past, University faculty from numerous colleges and departments have been involved with specific projects on the Northside, "It hasn't been what I would consider to be an organized, collective effort, where the University has intentionally marshaled a large amount of its resources to go in and accomplish certain objectives," says Craig Taylor, director of the U's Office for Business and Community Economic Development and a long-time north Minneapolis resident.

Taylor feels that over time, the U's collaborative efforts on the Northside could pay big dividends in terms of community health and educational attainment. And he feels UNP's potential to yield economic dividends should not be overlooked, since a stable economic platform underlies the ability for children to succeed.

"The [Northside] has tremendous untapped assets and resources," says Taylor. "This is a great opportunity for the U to assist that community in actualizing its potential. And that's exciting."