Grants aim to unite networks to increase impact
By Ashlee McGandy

Three project teams aiming to expand their networks of partners and peers have been awarded Public Issue Network Grants from the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement.

The grants, which are offered for the first time this year, support faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners as they weave broader, more effective networks of potential collaborators, coordinate resources and increase the impact of their work on a particular social issue.

“It’s not uncommon at Cornell for people to be working on the same issue and not even know it – whether because they’re in different disciplines, focused on different geographic areas or using slightly different terms to describe their work,” said Anna Sims Bartel, the Einhorn Center’s associate director for community-engaged curricula and practice. “We’re thrilled to offer these grants to support network development since research shows that webs of partnerships and projects can generate deeper impacts than individual projects alone.”

Providing up to $30,000 over three years, the grants can be used to help raise awareness about the issue and what is being done to address it; increase positive impact on communities; deepen and broaden university-community partnerships; and increase student participation.

The three projects funded this year are:

  • Youth-Led Media for Social Justice: This team from Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) offices across the state, the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (College of Human Ecology) and the Department of Literatures in English (College of Arts and Sciences) is creating an inclusive, welcoming, anti-racist youth media network. With support from a one-year seed grant, they are identifying Cornell and CCE colleagues and affiliates doing similar work in media design, technology and the humanities who might join the network to advance youth leadership around anti-racism and social justice.
  • Housing Justice for All: This team is using a two-year grant to expand the support network for tenants throughout Tompkins County facing eviction and the threat of homelessness. The project builds upon services that already exist in the City of Ithaca, including a housing hotline, the Ithaca Tenants Union, a Cornell Law School practicum and an eviction monitoring project. The network is particularly focused on supporting low-income tenants and tenants who are Black, Indigenous and people of color, as they currently face disproportionately high eviction rates.
  • Creating Our Futures: A NYS Resilient Communities Knowledge-to-Action Network: With a three-year grant, this team from the Department of Global Development and the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences), CCE and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation is addressing the plight of disinvested urban and rural communities in upstate New York. Honoring the wisdom and assets of these historically underserved communities, the team’s goal is to support, augment and increase these assets by creating a robust statewide network of people committed to community revitalization.