UW–Madison UniverCity Year program partners with Wisconsin Rapids, Adams County
For the City Times
MADISON – This year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison program, UniverCity Year plans to make a greater impact across the state by partnering with seven communities at the same time, including the villages of Egg Harbor and Marshall, the city of Wisconsin Rapids, and Adams, Brown, La Crosse and Milwaukee counties.
Launched in 2016 with the “Wisconsin Idea” in mind, this three-year program facilitates engagement between the UW–Madison learning community and localities, ultimately bringing faculty, students, and community members together to address some of the greatest challenges facing Wisconsin’s local governments.
Now in its fifth year, UniverCity Year has engaged with over 1,000 students and faculty members on more than 100 projects with the city of Monona, Dane County, Green County, and Pepin County. While traditionally, UniverCity Year has launched one new partnership per year, the program is now planning to engage with seven communities on a range of projects over the next three years.
“This is the first time we are working with multiple communities at once, which is evidence of the improved reputation of UniverCity Year,” said Gavin Luter, Managing Director of the UniverCity Alliance. “UW-Madison has a mission of serving the entire state, and we believe we have the capacity to work with these communities at the same time. Of course, this means that we will seek new partnerships with other higher education institutions like UW-Green Bay, UW-River Falls, UW-Milwaukee, and Marquette University to meet the demands of our local government partners. This is a great collaborative opportunity to show what this program can do if we continue to scale up.”
In each partnership, the community will be at the heart of the UniverCity Year program. While UniverCity Year will administer the program and provide resources for faculty and community members, the three-year partnership relies on the community to determine which challenges should be addressed and what projects would be most impactful. Each of the seven municipalities will be identifying challenges or projects to address during this partnership. To date, specific topics include flooding mitigation, child care affordability, access, and quality, government function improvements, jail inmate re-entry strategies, highway expansion that would include bike and pedestrian focused designs, and racial equality.
In an effort to help each community reach its goals, UniverCity Year staff matches each project to interested faculty members who then incorporate it into their coursework or research. UCY staff also facilitates interactions between the community and students, and allocate funds for classes to travel to communities and conduct research.
Upon completion of the projects, students and faculty will present their recommendations to the county or village for consideration. UniverCity Year staff will then continue to aid the local government in evaluating the feasibility of student research, implementing projects, and reporting on outcomes.