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Incentive Grants Promote Community Engagement at UT


Lenoir City Elementary School partnered with Susan Groenke and other UT researchers for a “Literacy Night” project to promote family literacy skills for parents and their children. / Photo: Lenoir City News-Herald


Deadline for applications: March 6, 2015

The current announcement is for funding awards that shall be effective July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016. This application cycle shall be open January 23 – March 6, 2015, for projects to be completed by June 30, 2016.

By Annie Freeland

UT professors, staff, and students from across the disciplines are demonstrably committed to community engagement.

Courtesy K. Ambroziak

Students construct a cemetery wall as part of an Outreach Incentive project for 2011-12.

The collaboration between UT and the larger community facilitates a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. These partnerships enrich research, teaching, and outreach.

Since 2010, the Office of Community Engagement & Outreach has awarded 33 Outreach Incentive Grants to projects that promote community-university partnerships. Eight out of nine UT, Knoxville colleges have submitted winning proposals.

Outreach Incentive Grant projects have varied widely. They have included a UT Department of Nutrition partnership with Second Harvest to develop a culinary curriculum to improve the diet and behaviors of children, a joint effort with Red Bird Mission to address the water, sanitation, and hygiene needs of the Appalachia community, and a UT College of Architecture and Design partnership with Knoxville Re-Animation Coalition to allow architecture students to build a structural wall for Odd Fellows Cemetery.


Biology in a Box received an Outreach Incentive Grant for the 2010-11 cycle.

The grants serve as a catalyst for sustained community engagement. The communication and collaboration do not stop once the Outreach Incentive Grant project cycle officially ends. A recent survey showed that most grant winners are still in touch with their community partners.

2011 Outreach Incentive Grant winner, Dawnie Steadman, still works with her community partner to enrich the learning of Forensic Science in Knox County Schools.

“We continue to provide lectures to Knox County schools even though they stopped the forensic science curriculum,” says Steadman, Professor of Anthropology. “We expanded to include an internship program this year.”

Elizabeth Stephanie Cramer, 2012 Outreach Incentive Grant winner, also continues her community engagement project. In the summer, her graduate students in Art Education 520, “Issues and Topics Current to the Field of Art Education,” work one-to-one with elementary students to create art that is of interest to the individual child.

“I continue to have the Art Education 520 class each summer,” says Cramer, Assistant Professor in Theory & Practice in Teacher Education. “This year, we worked at Inskip Elementary School.”

The spring 2015 grant application cycle for Outreach Incentive Grants is open January 23-March 6.

“It has been our obligation and privilege throughout the process to involve the community, through research questionnaires, public design meetings, and engagement in cemetery survey opportunities,” says Katherine Ambroziak, 2013 Outreach Incentive Grant winner. “We support not only the community as we move the project ahead, but we support our students as they learn.”

To apply for the 2015-16 Community Engagement Incentive Grants cycle, click here.