Center for Small Towns

The Clifford J. Benson Center for Community Partnerships fosters campus-community collaborations to address needs in small towns.

Clifford J. Benson Center for Community Partnerships


To work toward more vibrant and equitable rural communities.

How We Fulfill Our Mission

The Benson Center includes two units, the Center for Small Towns and the Office of Community Engagement, and works closely with the Office of Sustainability and the Morris Challenge.

Center for Small Towns

  • Supports community-engaged faculty research and consulting opportunities that build capacity to better understand rural challenges and make sound decisions to improve rural communities.
  • Coordinates student internships with governmental, educational, and community organizations in small towns.
  • Convenes events that include respectful conversations, build bridges among small town community members, and provide education about rural assets and challenges.

About Our Scope

  • We focus on projects that address data-driven needs in small towns of 10,000 or fewer residents.
  • We prioritize projects located in small towns in Minnesota.
  • We partner primarily with non-partisan community organizations, schools, and governmental entities. We work occasionally with for-profit entities if the work will address the public good. We also sometimes work with individual rural residents who have identified a challenge or project.

Contact Us

University of Minnesota Morris
200 Welcome Center
600 East Fourth Street
Morris, Minnesota 56267
Phone: 320-589-6451