Revisiting Priorities to Ensure Successful
Community Partnerships Recap | October 2022
Written by Jeremy Horne
On Thursday, October 20th, The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) gathered at the John S. and Drucie R. Chase building to reassess community priorities. Community members from neighborhoods throughout the Austin area participated in a series of conversations about leveraging the existing strengths and resources within their neighborhood to support equitable change.
The evening began with food and refreshments provided by Alegría Catering & Fiesta. After dinner, the Director for community facing programs at the CCE, Stephanie Lang, welcomed guests to the first in-person Front Porch Gathering since Fall 2019. According to Director Lang this would be the first of several events and initiatives to gather community input that will help shape and guide CCE priorities and programming moving forward. Dr. Suchitra Gururaj was in attendance to share stories about the initial goals of the Center for Community Engagement and to provide a historical context about the ongoing efforts to prioritize community voice. Although the initial focus areas identified by a collaborative of community-based and university stakeholders have been useful, Dr. Gururaj expressed excitement about charting a new direction for the CCE better aligned with new community priorities.
With this brief gaze towards the past, community members engaged in conversations with CCE staff to think about the future directions of successful community-university partnerships in Central Texas. Several groups of community members discussed the need for sustained engagement from University of Texas students and faculty members, as well as the need for increased financial support of community-based organizations led by people of color. After an hour-long discussion across a range of topics, each group of community members “debriefed” by sharing key takeaways from their discussion.
Finally, Director Stephanie Lang ended the night with next steps for receiving additional community input. She specifically reminded community members that the comments and perspectives collected during these discussions will be used to inform future events. Also, community members can stop by the John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building (1191 Navasota Street, Austin, TX) on the second Thursday of every month between 11:00 am – 1:00 pm to share an additional 20-minute story about the community, weather these stories be personal, political, or simply a happy neighborhood memory. To participate in this initiative, the CCE team encourages walk-in appointments during this scheduled date and time. We also encourage community members to make an appointment via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject heading of “Thursday Storytelling – [Your Name]”. Director Lang envisions these short narratives as another opportunity to better understand the context we serve. As always, feel free to contact CCE staff and let us know how we can best connect you with UT resources.