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An Alternative Report Card: Selected Urban Universities and Community Development, Engagement


The report card below is the result of a two-year study by University of Cincinnati planning faculty, researchers from a nationally ranked School of Planning. The schools were chosen for study because they serve as peer institutions for UC.

Date: 3/12/2007 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Michael Romanos

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Below are “grades,” the results of a study commissioned by the University of Cincinnati titled “Community Interactions and Collaborations: Peer Institutional Study.” It was commissioned so that the university could gauge the effectiveness of its own partnerships with local communities, the city and other large employers to stem decline in the neighborhoods surrounding the university, an area known as Uptown.

All the universities in this study share the following characteristics:

A full copy of the study and a full breakdown on all the universities’ community programs is available along with study recommendations regarding those programs.

UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI

study graphic

Neighborhood redevelopment has focused on housing for all income levels. Much of the private, market-rate housing is specifically geared to meet the needs of students who prefer to live off-campus. Commercial space includes new retail space, rehabilitated space and small business, as well as business-incubator space.

UC is one of several partners in the neighborhood redevelopment programs. That’s why UC has assisted local groups with a portion of their development costs, primarily in the form of low-interest loans for gap financing. All told these neighborhood projects have or will produce an estimated $500 million worth of construction. To help meet costs, the UC Board of Trustees approved a line of credit up to $75 million in near-market rate loans for the community groups. The remaining funding comes from federal tax credits, development corporation bonds and conventional financing, as well as private and institutional investments.

UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI: Uptown Consortium

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


UNIVERSITY OF AKRON: University Park Alliance
The partnership formed between UA, the City of Akron, Summa Health Systems and University Park Development Corporation encompasses housing, neighborhood revitalization, economic development and education. Specific projects have focused on construction of townhomes and retail space, assistance to open a farmer’s market, and a home down-payment assistance program for low-to-moderate-income UA employees. (By the end of 2003, the total financial commitment from all partners was $9 million. An additional grant of $400,000 from HUD was received by the UPA in 2004.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


DUKE UNIVERSITY: Durham Neighborhood Partnership
Development surrounding the university is directly supported by the university. Duke has financed the Self-Help Community Development Corporation, a non-profit lender that has purchased and renovated 60 homes to be sold to low-income, first-time buyers. Other efforts include construction of 40 residential units for Duke employees, development of West End affordable housing, helping to secure buildings for community centers and improving safety. (The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership currently has a project budget of $12 million, partly funded by a $4-million loan from Duke. Also, the partnership staff is paid as full-time Duke staff.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


GEORGIA TECH UNIVERSITY: Blueprint Midtown
Georgia Tech has partnered with the Midtown Alliance, community groups and businesses and has set 20-year goals for new retail, commercial and residential space. (Funding information in report is sketchy. Funding was kicked off in 1996-97 by a $1 million grant, largely funded by the Coca-Cola Company. An additional $500,000 in grants has been received. There have been unspecified grants from the federal government.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: The LSU Community University Partnership
Founded to help revitalize the Old South Baton Rouge community, CUP focuses on neighborhood revitalization, economic development and community organization via mixed-income condominium development and retail development along with a program to increase homeownership among low-income residents. (In 2001, CUP received $400,000 from HUD. LSU agreed to match the grant with an annual commitment of $500,000 from 2001-2004. CUP also attracted an $18.6 million HUD HOPE VI grant. LSU has traditionally committed about $6 million per year to community development, an amount expected to remain stable.)

High-end scores: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment
Improving rental housing, increasing home ownership and revitalizing retail space in the University District are CPUR’s goals. Efforts have included a $130-million mixed use project of retail and office space as well as a parking garage and apartments; rehabilitation of low-income housing; and down-payment assistance for OSU employees buying homes in the district. (In 1995, OSU’s board made a $28 million, five-year pledge to fund urban renewal efforts. One project specifically – South Campus Gateway Project – was funded by $30 million in new market tax credits, $20 million from OSU’s endowment, $7.5 million from the city, $4.5 million from the state, $33 million from a tax-exempt bond issue by OSU and $10.5 million from a conventional mortgage loan. The $60-million Section 8 housing project was funded by OSU, the city and Ohio Capital Corporation.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D


SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY: Centre for Sustainable Community Development
Land development is underway for shops, services and a public transit system for a new planned community of 10,000 people on land adjacent to campus. Other community efforts include a center to provide region-specific information on products, technologies and services to increase green building practices. (No funding information to be found in report summary.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA: Community Partnerships
In order to transform itself from a commuter campus, UBC is transforming itself into a more compact, live-work environment with new housing options for both campus and community. (Over the next 25 years, over $500 million will be donated to the endowment which funds UBC’s University Town project. No comprehensive details.)

High-level scores: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES: UCLA Center for Community Partnership
The CCP promotes exchanges between the university and community, including small business assistance, encouragement of e-commerce, training programs and family interventions for at-risk children. (Small amounts of funding from various sources, ranging from $10,000-$50,000 grants.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F


UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: West Philadelphia Initiatives
The WPI is addressing needed neighborhood improvement, homeownership and promotion of retail activity, and has acquired land and developed it. For instance, the University Square project is a 300,000 square-foot development for over 20 retailers and a 228-room Hilton Hotel. Other efforts focus on renovating dilapidated affordable apartment housing and has, to date, created over 200 units of high quality, affordable housing. (University investment in the University Square project was over $90 million.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Bottom of the spectrum: F


UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: USC Civic and Community Relations
The five goals of USC’s CCR are to provide resources to the children in surrounding neighborhoods, improve safety, encourage small businesses, encourage USC employees to live near campus and to employ individuals who have lived in the USC neighborhood for at least five years. Individual programs include tutoring and other programs for children, aiding children on the walk to and from school, and scholarships for youth in surrounding neighborhoods. (Between 1995-2005, a USC Good Neighbor Campaign raised $6.3 million. It was a one-percent payroll deduction to contribute to the fund. Also, USC students donate $3 of fees to fund scholarships.)

High-score areas: A+

Doing well but room for improvement: B

Average performance: C

Needs to work harder: D

Bottom of the spectrum: F



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