Creating inclusive spaces for partnership: Responses from local leaders engaged in a community-university partnership centre

Kara Mileski
Abdulkhaliq Mohamed
Rosemarie Hunter


Communities around the world are faced with challenges as they seek to address inequality in spite of larger systems designed to create dependence. In response to this, local residents have begun to develop their own solutions to address the needs of their communities. Creating spaces for capacity building and empowerment engages community members as leaders to identify and address concerns as they emerge. The Hartland Partnership Center is an example of a community-university partnership designed to meet the needs of individuals and families living on the westside of Salt Lake City. The Hartland Resident Committee (HRC) was formed to lead this endeavour by identifying what the needs of community members were and developing programs within a community learning centre located in a gateway neighbourhood for new arriving populations of immigrant and refugee background. With this pilot study, we sought not only to understand why individuals became engaged in leadership, but also why HRC members remained engaged. More specifically, we wanted to identify what it was about the HRC that helped individuals feel comfortable to share their ideas for change and growth. We identified five key methods to engage the HRC members to be leaders in their community: (1) provide opportunities for leadership development; (2) create an inclusive environment; (3) identify the common goal of the group while respecting diversity; (4) care about the lives of RC members; and (5) implement the decisions of the group. The findings of this study provide additional insights into why community members become engaged in community-university partnerships and the foundation for further research on engagement of community members as leaders. Keywords: community engagement, empowerment, capacity building, resident committee, community social work

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