As someone who worked at or directed small nonprofits for most of the last 25 years and is well versed in the challenges faced by rural communities, I was pretty wowed when I happened upon the Center for Small Towns. I thought about how many times I’d wished that the organizations I’d worked for had the capacity to develop the survey or put together the data or design the materials we needed to really get our message out.
The people in our rural communities know what’s happening to them. But, sometimes we need the science to tell funders or legislators or other decision makers. Sometimes we need data that we don’t have the staff time or the volunteer skill to develop. We need a hand to get our stories out to get more people involved in our work or to tell about the services we are able to provide.
I’ve been talking with people a lot over the last few weeks about our Community Projects Program and I’d like to share with you all a little more about it in hopes that you’ll spread the word. We’re accepting community proposals through November 10th at http://www.centerforsmalltowns.org .
The Center for Small Towns is what some people call “Land Grant 101.” We make the university accessible to the whole community. A main way that we do this is by working one to one with schools, local governments, and nonprofit organizations in small towns around the state.
You bring to us the idea that you need help with, past and current projects have included everything from creating a medication disposal site in Atwater to working with Otter Tail County on a tourism profile, and we start by helping you focus the project and then match you with the student or students that would benefit from the experience and could fill your group’s needs.
We can’t do everything, but with the great help of UMM faculty and other university resources as well as the incredible talent of our students, there is quite a bit we are able to do. Right now our students are working on projects including archival research, video development, graphic design, survey development and data cleaning, and a lot more.
Most of our projects take place within 100 miles of Morris but, thanks to technology, we are able to take on projects in other areas of Minnesota as well. Most far away project just require being something that students can take on from campus with limited trips to the site.
Students generally work up to 10 hours during the semester and up to full time over break. Hosts are expected to provide a supervisor and students also get supervision and leadership development training through CST.
Does this sound interesting or helpful to you? Do you work in a small town or with rural communities? Would you like to know more? Call me at 320-589-9800 or go to http://www.centerforsmalltowns.org. Don’t forget to spread the word! Applications are due November 10th for community projects