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2017-2018 Community Engagement Incentive Grant Winners Selected

Six community-campus partnerships were awarded funds for projects that enhance the public engagement mission of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

UT Community Engagement Grants are allocated through a competitive annual process; subject to both academic and community peer review. This year’s projects range from work with the My People Fund to an augmented reality sandbox to assessments for veterans.

Rachel Caldwell, Scholarly Communication Librarian, UT Libraries

Proposal title: Accessing Academic Research: Library Research Workshops for East Tennessee Nonprofits

Abstract: Last year, the Libraries offered several workshops to East Tennessee nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits need access to academic research for grant proposals, evidence-based decision-making, etc. Such research is found in peer-reviewed journals that often exist behind pay-walls insurmountable for nonprofits’ budgets. The workshops gave participants training in finding and accessing journals; positive feedback indicates further support is warranted. Additional funding would provide nonprofits further training opportunities with students in the School of Information Sciences (SIS), giving graduate students consulting experience, and allow the Libraries to hire a student to create promotional materials out of recorded interviews advocating open access publishing.

Michael Camponovo, GIS Outreach Coordinator, Geography

Proposal title: Upgraded Augmented Reality Sandbox for Hands On Middle School Science and Geography Education

Abstract: Users of the Augmented Reality Sandbox (AR Sandbox) have an immediate reaction as they manipulate the sand to form mountains and valleys and watch as the terrain changes before their eyes. By upgrading the AR Sandbox to simulate and model rainfall and lava flows, we will expand the educational reach of our department by having the capability to more closely align with science and geography standards in public schools across East Tennessee and the courses being taught in our department. We will expand our own outreach by sharing these lessons with other users of the AR Sandbox across the world.

Jennifer M. Jabson, Assistant Professor, Public Health

Proposal title: Needs Assessment and Feasibility Testing of An Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Gay and Bisexual Men in Knoxville.

Abstract: Excess stress is the prevailing explanation for health disparities among sexual minority men (SMM; gay and bisexual men); therefore, eliminating health disparities among SMM requires addressing stress. Compared to urban SMM, SMM in Appalachia may be at the greatest risk for excess stress due to socially conservative, geographically isolated, rural regions. In joint partnership with All Out Knoxville, this project involves a preliminary needs assessment and feasibility test of an online mindfulness-based stress reduction (OMBSR) program for SMM in Appalachia. This is a mixed-method needs assessment and feasibility project conducted with a convenience sample of SMM in Appalachia.

Elizabeth R. MacTavish, Clinical Assistant Professor, Theory and Practice in Teacher Education

Proposal title: Promoting Scientific Literacy in Students: Teaching Teachers How to Best Support Students

Abstract: In August 2018, the Tennessee Department of Education will issue new science curriculum standards for grades K-12. The standards emphasis the need for all students to become scientifically literate citizens. Defined as the ability to reading science, writing science, and speaking science, the standards highlight the commitment of science teachers to incorporate these components in all science lessons. This project proposes an ongoing partnership with the Knox County Schools (KCS) science department focusing on the development of a research-based science literacy website and the facilitation of a three-part professional development (PD) series that will support teachers’ abilities to engage students in scientific literacy practices.

Gina Owens, Associate Professor, Psychology and Leticia Flores, Associate Professor, Psychology

Proposal title: Diagnostic Assessments for Veterans in Recovery Court

Abstract: Given distinct risks for veterans in recovery courts, such as trauma history and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that may affect retention and recidivism, psychological assessment to identify these risks would benefit veterans, recovery courts, and the community. The current project will partner with Knox Recovery Court (KRC) to provide diagnostic screening for veterans entering the program. Veterans who are referred by KRC will receive a diagnostic interview and detailed assessment of trauma, PTSD, and personality. Assessment information will assist KRC in making appropriate mental health referrals beyond typical programming focused on recovery from substance abuse and preventing recidivism.

Stacia West, Assistant Professor, Social Work

Proposal title:  My People Fund Evaluation Wave II

Abstract:  Wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN, destroyed approximately 1,300 residences leaving local families in emotional and economic crisis. The My People Fund, an initiative of the Dollywood Foundation has pledged to provide $1,000 for six months to each family who lost their home. We intend to investigate outcomes of this approach by conducting a longitudinal evaluation of 900 survivors’ social, emotional, physical, and financial conditions.