IN IT TOGETHER
In addition to access to education and economic development through jobs and innovation, other critical needs emerge, like access to healthcare, healthy food and clean environments. The U of I System partnering with community-focused groups and other public universities improves our collective ability to make things better.
Living lab feeds neighbors in need
Dixon Springs Agricultural Center supports Southern Illinois residents and the unique challenges some face, including generational poverty. In true boots-on-the-ground spirit, the center helps growers and the region with fruit and vegetable research and outreach. Experiencing the living laboratory’s breadth – forestry management, beef production and much more – made this system stop memorable and possibility rich.
What’s next: Local legislators set to provide guidance for spreading the word about Dixon Springs Agricultural Center. The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at UIUC and Illinois Extension are planning additional visits to spotlight the center.
Opportunities for diverse vendors and students
Invaluable time spent with the Business Leadership Council and the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus. One common goal is connecting more businesses run by people of color with U of I System opportunities. An important part of the system truly showing up includes the new Diverse Supplier Development Program. Its first cohort began groundbreaking partnerships this fall.
What's next: In addition to more action on opportunities for Black professionals, student recruitment connections are essential to welcoming prospective students of color to any campus. Connecting high school students with fraternities and sororities from system universities is just one of many bright ideas in this space.
The strength of systems
An Illinois Innovation Network hub, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is synonymous with excellence in workforce education and development for its students and our state. So many priorities and ways for students and communities to thrive align between the U of I System and the Southern Illinois University System.
What’s next: Exploring healthcare and other collaborations as UIS Chancellor Janet Gooch launches conversations with Southern Illinois University System President Daniel Mahoney and SIU School of Medicine Dean and Provost and SIU Medicine CEO Jerry Kruse.
Hub of innovation and support
Partnering with Lake Land Community College and others, Illinois Innovation Network hub Eastern Illinois University (EIU) is eager to expand its Center for Clean Energy and Research Education. State tour visitors learned more about Sustaining Illinois Seed Grants EIU received, as well as the sustainability course it offers to Illinois public universities. Showing its range, EIU also buoys the Mattoon-Charleston community with work to help its low-income neighbors become food secure.
What’s next: Potential alignment with Illinois Innovation Network members and the EIU Faculty Fellows Program, which helps faculty and staff connect informally with students outside the classroom. Exciting opportunities related to immersive classrooms for tech-centered learning experiences.
Activity abounds any time Jackie Joyner-Kersee is around. So true at her new Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Innovation Center in East St. Louis. The facility will include indoor and outdoor urban agriculture demonstration sites, as well as space for youth and community members to engage in hands-on training and certification programs. With University of Illinois Extension and other partners, the focus is on growing healthy food and learning about nutrition.
What's next: Greater partnership with UIUC's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, as well as exploration around urban-rural exchange visits, early childhood development and Discovery Partners Institute.
Culture of care
Representatives from the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation shared about their missions and talked about opportunities to work with the system beyond the Illini Science Program and current UIC partnership. They shared about their greenhouse for growing healthy food for their neighbors, including homeless youth, as well as the history and artistry that add to the vibrant community.
What's next: Among other possibilities, connecting community members with student advocacy groups and learning from one another about urban agriculture.
At this stop, participants celebrated the successful UIS Reaching Stellar campaign and experienced robust interactions with new UIS Chancellor Janet Gooch, community leaders, alumni and more. The U of I System and UIS thrive on on working with Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance leaders to further strengthen the Springfield community.
What's next: Creating greater partnerships with UIS, as well as exploring how United Way of Central Illinois and UIS might reach more people to support community needs.
Focus on agriculture
At the Illinois State Fair, state tour participants gathered to spotlight how essential agriculture is to Illinois and its residents. Such important opportunities in education, research and partnerships in the agriculture industry. Plus, while farming traditions remain strong, so is the collective desire to help feed the world in more sustainable ways. Growing food and raising livestock efficiently and effectively helps our world's quickly expanding population and its ever-changing needs.
The University of Illinois System is the flagship higher education system in the state of Illinois.