Perspectives from community partnerships in three diverse higher education contexts

Main Article Content

Hunter P. Goodman
Ruth Yow
Miranda Standberry-Wallace
Rachel Dekom
Mamie Harper
Amalia Nieto Gomez
Alicya D. Watson


Asset-based Community Development (ABCD) approaches in higher education have the potential to benefit a diversity of higher education settings and partners, but they can also present challenges and opportunities for growth in higher education institutions. Co- curricular community engagement and academic service-learning programs may struggle to balance the broader political and logistical constraints imposed by the university with equitable, long-term, community-guided relationships that reflect a genuine commitment to ABCD. Extension programs may face difficulty engaging community members and maintaining their commitment to the long-term nature of ABCD in an environment where ABCD is not universally utilised. Although these challenges may seem daunting, partners in all three contexts can draw on a wealth of ABCD tools and resources, including case studies like those anchoring this discussion, in order to answer the question: How can ABCD approaches be utilised most effectively in higher education contexts to address challenges and improve outcomes? Specifically, can an asset-based orientation help position community participants as peer ‘experts’ alongside their academic partners, share power and authority in the collaboration? If so, how? If not, why not? The authors explore these questions using a case study methodology, allowing for nuanced portraits of three different contexts depicting interactions among community and university partners seeking to ground their collaborations in the mobilisation of assets, gifts and strengths. This article also seeks to identify key lessons learned in each setting of the three participating United States universities – the public, four-year research institution, the private religious university and the land-grant college/cooperative extension in order to make recommendations on using ABCD to build and nurture academic-community partnerships that are generalisable across other contexts.

Article Details

Practice-based articles (Non-refereed)
Author Biographies

Hunter P. Goodman, University of Arkansas System, Div. of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service

Dr. Hunter Goodman is an ABCD practitioner, trainer, and facilitator who embeds the principles and practices of asset-based community development in her commitment to uplift and inspire leadership within rural communities. Hunter is an Assistant Professor and Community, Workforce, and Economic Development Specialist at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. An innovative, collaborative leader and researcher, she is committed to building and supporting a shared mission and collaborative, strategic direction within education, the nonprofit sector, and the local community.  

Hunter is an active part of the Asset-Based Community Development practitioners’ network. She is an alumna of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, a first-of-its-kind executive education-style partnership between the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson, dedicated to developing strong leaders. She earned her doctoral degree in leadership from the University of Central Arkansas and her Master of Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. Hunter lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and two sons.

Ruth Yow, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr Ruth Yow is a historian and ethnographer of justice struggles and public education. She holds a PhD in American Studies and African American Studies from Yale University. My book, Students of the Dream: Resegregation in a Southern City, is available through Harvard University Press.  In her capacity as the Service Learning and Partnerships Specialist at Georgia Tech's Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, Dr. Yow engages her background in equity and community-based movements to facilitate transformative teaching, learning, and long-term projects across Georgia Tech and beyond it. 

Miranda Standberry-Wallace, DePaul University Steans Center

Miranda Standberry-Wallace is a visionary thought leader and innovative problem-solving specialist who focuses on the betterment of people, businesses, and communities through asset mapping, strategic collaborative connections, research, process analysis, and tech-based design at DePaul University's Stean Center. 

Mamie Harper , Carrie's Closet of Georgia

Mamie is a self-proclaimed 'Children’s Champion' with 13 years in the child welfare and social services sectors. She has experience ranging from DFCS case management to therapeutic services in the education sector. She currently works as a children's therapist. 

Mamie has a passion for children and families and sees the need to ensure that no child ever looks like the trauma they have endured. In 2015, she put her personal beliefs into action by founding Carrie’s Closet. 

In her free time, Mamie loves visiting her hometown of Columbus, GA, and watching her Dawgs play. She thoroughly enjoys leading her Cadet Girl Scout Troop and mentoring. However, her greatest joy stems from being an active Auntie to Addison and Desmond and Godmommy to Bryson and Miles. The happiness she sees on their faces inspires her work daily.

Amalia Nieto Gomez, Alliance of the Southeast

Amalia NietoGomez has been the executive director/lead organizer for ASE since Jan. 2013. She:

  • Co-directs the Coalition for a South Works CBA, a diverse &broad-based Coalition of 35+ organizational members on Chicago’s southeast side, working to prioritize local residents for jobs, training, and education opportunities, affordable housing, &environmental sustainability at local developments on Chicago’s southeast side. Coalition members have met with 7 developers, & are currently negotiating with North Point developer. The Coalition is working to obtain Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), written agreements between developers and community groups to ensure developments benefit local residents.
  • Convenes a Citywide Equitable Development Round Table, with a number of Chicago organizing groups.
  • Organizes Germano Millgate tenants around address health/safety issues. Results: In 2019, tenants organized 2 actions, resulting in a meeting with top regional U.S. Dept. of Housing &Urban Development official, Region V Administrator Joseph Galvan. Previously, tenants won $1.6 million in HUD funds released for capital repairs in 2017, reduction in pest-related asthma triggers by 45+% between 2013-2015, &agreement by owner to use $4.2 million in HUD funds to address top 5 tenant-identified priorities for repairs in 2015.
  • Organized youth leaders to hold 1st annual anti-violence march &rally. News coverage: Channel 5, 7,Television, Univision. Event is now held annually.
  • United local organizations & Ceasefire to establish local nonviolence zone. Results: Community events with 300-400 residents. 8 Safe Havens, places where a child can take shelter or request assistance.

Previously, Amalia was a board member of ASE, Alianza, and the Alianza/ASE transition board. Before joining ASE, she had 13 years of housing/banking experience and community outreach. Amalia has organized around neighborhood safety, tenants rights, asthma, predatory lending, immigrant rights, and education. She directed statewide coalition efforts against predatory lending, resulting in passage of the first anti-predatory lending city ordinance in the U.S, state regulations, & state law. These policies resulted in a 2 year decrease in foreclosures started in the City of Chicago– the first decrease in home foreclosure starts in over a decade (before the housing bubble burst), and served as model for organization’s CRA agreements and national anti-predatory lending campaign.

Amalia graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs with a minor in Latin American Studies.



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