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2016-17 Community Engagement Incentive Grant Winners

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville provides special project funding for proposals that specifically enhance the engagement mission of the university. UT Community Engagement Incentive Grants are allocated through a competitive annual process, subject to both academic and community peer review. Learn more here.

The following projects will begin July 1, 2016. We we will publish results in January 2018.


mbcolemanMarion (Mari Beth) Coleman, Associate Professor in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education

Proposal title: (dis)Ability Awareness Training: Changing Attitudes Early

Students with disabilities are among the highest risk groups of school-aged children for being bullied. Although research is limited regarding the causes of bullying, part of the reason students with disabilities may be bullied is because of a general misunderstanding about disability, even among adults. The goal of the proposed program is to provide (dis)ability awareness training to young children and to follow up to see if their knowledge and awareness of disability are impacted by the training. Additionally, I plan to collect data to assess the effectiveness of the (dis)ability awareness training activities in terms of increased disability-related knowledge and attitudes toward people with disabilities. Specifically, if granted, funds would be used to create training materials and to pay student workers (hourly) to help me develop training materials and activities and to provide trainings to children in elementary school classrooms in two local elementary schools.

Clea McNeelyClea McNeely, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health

Proposal title: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)  Prevention in East Tennessee: An Innovative Public Health Initiative to Increase Contraceptive Access in High-Risk Populations

We propose to conduct a rigorous evaluation of an innovative public health program to offer women in county jails, most of whom are at high risk of having a baby with NAS, access to voluntary reversible long-acting contraceptives (VRLACs). The Tennessee Department of Health is highly interested in this program and would like to expand it to other counties should a rigorous evaluation show it to be non-coercive, efficacious, and cost-effective. This evaluation will involve public health and nursing students in all aspects of the evaluation, allowing them to learn qualitative and quantitative research methods and to conduct program evaluations. The East Tennessee Regional Health Office offers VRLACs to incarcerated women in the 15-county region at no cost. The evaluation has been designed jointly by Clea McNeely (UTK Department of Public Health), Brittany Isabell (ETRO), Sadie Hutson (UTK School of Nursing), and Tara Sturdivant (ETRO). IRB approval will be sought for all aspects of the evaluation.

SONY DSCBharat Mehra, Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences

Proposal title: Small Business Community Information Exchange at The Blount County Public Library in East Tennessee

This project will support a Small Business Community Information Exchange at the Blount County Public Library in East Tennessee to engage small businesses and public libraries in the region to develop a blueprint of a Public Library Small Business Toolkit. At an interactive community forum with at least 30 small business and public library participants, the Small Business Community Information Exchange will provide a blueprint design and strategic action plan prototype for a toolkit. The work will be based on a quantitative and qualitative gap analysis of feedback from Tennessee’s small business and rural public library representatives about their needs, expectations, and experiences. Ongoing data collection and analysis for developing the toolkit has formed part of a grant (October 2014 – September 2016) co-authored with Dr. Bradley Wade Bishop entitled “The Role of Rural Public Libraries in Small Business Economic Development in the Appalachian Region: A Case Study of Tennessee” awarded to the School of Information Sciences by the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ National Leadership Grants for Libraries.


Hana Sherman croppedHana Sherman, Grants and Research Assistant in the Department of Theatre

Proposal title: Creative Arts Collaboration

The Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT) will partner with the visual arts students at schools such as Austin-East Magnet High School to create a collaborative art project. The project will span the CBT’s 2016/2017 Season. The visual art students will be given prompts based on the productions a month before the actual production opens. Original pieces based on the prompts will be displayed at the theature once performances begin and remain on display for the remainder of the three-week run. Students will then attend a Season for Youth Student Matinee performance and will create a final reaction piece based on their experience of attending the play. The final piece will also be put on display in the CBT Lobby. These pieces will help increase the dialogue about the themes of the play among the UT community as well as the greater Knoxville community as well as giving voice to the next generation of artists.


staudtMarlys Staudt, Associate Professor in the College of Social Work

Proposal title: Enhancing Self-Care for Professional Caregivers of an Interdisciplinary Child Trauma Team

Our community based service research is a partnership between the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) of the Ninth Judicial District of Tennessee and UT’s College of Social Work. The CAC provides assessment and treatment to children who have experienced trauma stemming from severe physical or sexual abuse. The CAC coordinates and interdisciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, CAC, Department of Children’s Services, juvenile court and the District Attorney Offices. The service area comprises 1300 square miles, much of it impoverished.  Our research will consist of two parts: 1) assessing the compassion fatigue/secondary trauma of interdisciplinary team members, as well as their current knowledge about compassion fatigue and self-care, and 2) using the findings to develop a one-day presentation on compassion fatigue and self-care to the team members, as well as offering an intervention to those who are interested.