Above: Campus Connections is a service learning course at CSU where students from more than 90 majors work one-on-one as mentors to youth in the community.

By Jennifer Dimas
November 12, 2018

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has awarded Colorado State University with the 2018 Innovation & Economic Prosperity Talent award. The national award recognizes exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development.

APLU’s IEP Universities designation program helps higher education institutions codify, elevate and advance their enterprise supporting economic and community development while providing recognition to institutions committed to university economic development. In order to earn the designation, institutions complete a rigorous self-study and stakeholder engagement process.

‘This work is in our DNA’

“We are delighted that the array of engagement efforts here at Colorado State, that are simultaneously comprehensive and each deep in nature, are being recognized by the APLU,” said Rick Miranda, CSU’s provost and executive vice president. “This work is in our DNA as Colorado’s land-grant University, and I hope that the entire CSU community will draw inspiration from this award – and the projects that were featured in our application – to continue to aspire to make engagement come alive here for our students.”

Designated institutions are eligible to compete for IEP Awards in three different categories and for a fourth top-prize that recognize the core components of “economic engagement” or the ways in which universities and their public-private partners contribute to economic and social prosperity and opportunity. The winners of the awards were announced at the 2018 APLU Annual Meeting now underway in New Orleans.

“Since their founding, public universities have looked to spur economic development in their regions while engaging their communities,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We applaud the winners of this year’s APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. Their exceptional efforts provide a model for other institutions aiming to magnify all dimensions of university-driven economic development.”

Education and workforce development

As the winner of this year’s IEP Talent award, CSU’s work in both education and workforce development was lauded. The university has worked to significantly broaden the geographic reach of its workforce development impact in recent years and expanded a network of statewide engagement hubs that supplement current work underway through Extension offices.

“This prestigious national APLU award recognizes several outstanding CSU engagement programs by both colleges and Extension and is national recognition of our campus-wide academic engagement,” said CSU Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson.

Three key programs were highlighted as part of the award: Campus Connections; Family Leadership Training Institute of Colorado; and, the Center for Public Deliberation. These programs demonstrate the diverse ways CSU is developing the next generation of engaged civic leaders and global citizens. They exemplify the university’s strategic focus on high-impact practices that promote co-curricular engagement and integration, service learning, and experiential learning.

Graduate students in the Marriage and Family Therapy program in Human Development and Family Studies lead the service-learning course each night of Campus Connections. Mentors plan pro-social activities and practice motivational interviewing skills to engage their mentee.
Graduate students in the Marriage and Family Therapy program in Human Development and Family Studies lead the service-learning course each night of Campus Connections. Mentors plan pro-social activities and practice motivational interviewing skills to engage their mentee.

Campus Connections

Campus Connections is a campus-based mentoring program pairing CSU student mentors with at-risk youth and families in Larimer County. Students from over 90 majors work one-on-one with youth ranging from 11-18 over a 12-week period to tackle a broad range of challenges and reach their full potential.

As part of the program, CSU students enroll in a three-credit course centered on mentoring literature. The students then spend four hours each week providing academic help, career planning and goal setting. In addition to helping at-risk youth overcome challenges and develop key skills, the program helps CSU students develop indispensable leadership skills.

To help ensure the program’s success, the university engages a wide range of community stakeholders, from local school districts to Department of Human Services to judges in area juvenile courts. Since its inception, the program has served 2,250 youth and engaged 2,700 CSU students.

The program has gained international attention because its unique design solves significant challenges that have plagued traditional mentoring programs. In response to this interest, the CC leadership team has partnered with CSU Ventures, the university’s technology transfer and commercialization office, to trademark and license the program to other university campuses. The curriculum now operates at the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The Family Leadership Training Institute of Colorado is a program created with families for families. The curriculum equips families with knowledge and skills to support their engagement with systems at the individual, community, and policy level.
The Family Leadership Training Institute of Colorado is a program created with families for families. The curriculum equips families with knowledge and skills to support their engagement with systems at the individual, community, and policy level.

Family Leadership Training Institute of Colorado

The Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) of Colorado is a first-of-its-kind civics education program created with families for families. Run by CSU Extension, FLTI delivers a nonpartisan curriculum that brings diverse family leaders together to explore their personal leadership goals and equip them with the vital knowledge and civic engagement skills required to create positive change for their families and communities.

During the 20-week training, leaders acquire the civic tools necessary to engage in action that addresses critical health and social inequities affecting their schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Leaders learn about the tenets of democracy and their right to utilize government resources optimally in the best interest of children and families.

FLTI intentionally recruits diverse, underrepresented and marginalized perspectives and seeks to reduce barriers to participation by offering the program at no cost to participants, often also providing evening meals and childcare assistance. A variety of statewide partners contribute monetary and in-kind support to make this program possible, including nonprofit organizations, Children’s Hospital Colorado, various Early Childhood Councils, Colorado Family Resource Center Association and FLTI alumni.

FLTI graduates join a growing network of more than 1,000 family and community leaders working to create positive change on behalf of children, youth, families, and their diverse Colorado communities.

Center for Public Deliberation

Since 2006, the Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) has dedicated its efforts to enhancing local democracy through improved public communication and community problem-solving. Public deliberation is an approach to public problem-solving in which citizens, not just experts or politicians, are deeply involved in public decision making. The CPD is an ongoing experiment in what happens when a local organization focuses all its energy, time, and expertise on elevating the conversation rather than winning the argument.

The Center is dedicated to three primary goals – to enhance the local civic culture, expand collaborative decision-making, and improve civic education at all levels (K-12, higher education, and citizen education).

Working as an affiliate of the National Issues Forum Network, part of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation and the University Network for Collaborative Governance, the CPD designs and hosts an average of 20 events annually in the local community, including public forums on national and local issues and various workshops tied to public participation, collaborative governance, and civic engagement.

Since its inception, over 300 students have participated in the CPD student-associate program, hosting nearly 300 events that have attracted over 20,000 attendees and providing services to the community valued near $1.5 million.

About APLU

APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement.   Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $44.9 billion in university-based research.