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

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:

  • Located in an urban core in larger cities
  • Large academic institutions
  • Older academic institutions
  • Research-oriented institutions
  • Known for community involvement.

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

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+

  • Financial commitment
  • Increase in housing
  • Innovative financing
  • Partnerships with other institutions
  • Presidential leadership (commitment to efforts extend to highest university level)
  • Urban design

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Community development (need for wider focus in developing neighborhood assets)

Average performance: C

  • Community participation
  • Focus on safety
  • Impacts on wider metro region

Needs to work harder: D

  • Economic development
  • Environment and sustainability

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Historic preservation
  • Social capital development (solving poverty and unemployment of neighborhoods)
  • Use of donors for financing development projects


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+

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Partnerships with institutions

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Community development
  • Increase in housing

Average performance: C

  • Focus on safety

Needs to work harder: D

  • Community participation
  • Donor financing
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Financial commitment
  • Historic preservation
  • Impact on economic development
  • Innovative financing
  • Presidential leadership
  • Social capital development
  • Urban design

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Impact on wider metro region


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+

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Community development
  • Community participation
  • Presidential leadership

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Focus on safety
  • Social capital development

Average performance: C

  • Donor financing
  • Financial commitment
  • Impact on economic development
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Increase in housing

Needs to work harder: D

  • Historic preservation
  • Partnerships with institutions

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Innovative financing
  • Urban design


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+

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Community participation 
  • Donor financing
  • Impact on economic development
  • Urban design

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Community development
  • Focus on safety
  • Innovative financing
  • Partnerships with institutions

Average performance: C

  • Historic preservation
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Social capital development

Needs to work harder: D

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Increase in housing

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Financial commitment
  • Presidential leadership


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+

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Community Development
  • Presidential leadership

Average performance: C

  • Impact on economic development
  • Increase in housing

Needs to work harder: D

  • Community participation
  • Financial commitment
  • Social capital development

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Donor financing
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Focus on safety
  • Historic preservation
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Innovative financing
  • Partnerships with institutions
  • Urban design


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+

  • Focus on safety
  • Presidential leadership

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Community development
  • Community participation
  • Financial commitment
  • Innovative financing
  • Urban design

Average performance: C

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Historic preservation
  • Impact on economic development]
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Increase in housing
  • Partnerships with institutions
  • Social capital development

Needs to work harder: D

  • Donor financing


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+

  • Community development
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Increase in housing
  • Urban design

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Partnerships with institutions

Average performance: C

  • Financial commitment
  • Historic preservation
  • Presidential leadership
  • Social capital development

Needs to work harder: D

  • Impact on economic development
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Innovative financing

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Community participation
  • Focus on safety


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+

  • Community developmen
  • Community participation

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Donor financing 
  • Partnerships with institutions
  • Presidential leadership
  • Social capital development

Average performance: C

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Financial commitment

Needs to work harder: D

  • Focus on safety
  • Historic preservations
  • Innovative financing

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Impact on economic development
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Increase in housing
  • Urban design


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+

  • Community development
  • Social capital development

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Impact on economic development
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Urban design

Average performance: C

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Community participation
  • Donor financing
  • Financial commitment
  • Innovative financing
  • Partnerships with institutions
  • Presidential leadership

Needs to work harder: D

  • Focus on safety
  • Historic preservation

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Increase in housing


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+

  • Financial commitment
  • Focus on safety
  • Increase in housing

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Community development
  • Community participation
  • Impact on economic development
  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Innovative financing
  • Partnerships with institutions
  • Presidential leadership
  • Social capital development
  • Urban design

Average performance: C

  • Historic preservation

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Donor financing
  • Environment and sustainability


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+

  • Community participation
  • Donor financing
  • Focus on safety
  • Impact on economic development
  • Social capital development

Doing well but room for improvement: B

  • Avoiding use of eminent domain
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Partnerships with institutions
  • Presidential leadership

Average performance: C

  • Historic preservation

Needs to work harder: D

  • Impact on wider metro region
  • Increase in housing
  • Innovative financing

Bottom of the spectrum: F

  • Financial commitment
     

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