University of Pittsburgh — Goal 2 Initiative The Community Engagement Center
The Community Engagement Center (CEC) initiative creates long-term, place-based partnerships between select Pittsburgh neighborhoods and the University of Pittsburgh by linking and leveraging the entirety of the university’s engagement assets (research, teaching, service, economic demand), providing specialty facilities to support engagement activities, and implementing engaged scholarship, which produces a wide range of social, educational, and economic outcomes. To date, two CECs are underway, one with a fully built physical infrastructure (20,000 square feet), the other in a temporary location. A third CEC is now being planned.
Prior to the Community Engagement Center Initiative, Pitt’s community engagements were initiated by individual schools, departments, or faculty members. The University lacked a developmental partnership through which it could link and leverage disparate efforts to generate outsized impact. Pitt chose to implement a place-based engagement approach to address this need, committing to a long-term partnership, anchored by a facility achieved through a long-term lease (15 years) and millions of dollars in upfront capital investment, staff and assets. This had never been done before at Pitt.
Key Interventions and Milestones
Each Community Engagement Center has created contextually relevant impact initiatives. For example, at the Hill District CEC, Pitt created a Digital Inclusion Center which impacts digital literacy and learning for the community. The main activities of the CECs are to connect University faculty and staff with community collaborators so that they can generate mutually beneficial engagements that meet the needs and agendas of their communities.
Through community events, remote learning programs, and services offered, the Community Engagement Center initiative will expand its partnerships, its number of events, and the number of visitors and community members who the initiative serves regularly.