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Partner with Us

Can I be a Center for Small Towns Partner?

The answer is yes. Each January, anyone who lives in or works on projects with rural communities can apply to partner with us. Yes, really--anyone! While we typically work with non-partisan community organizations, schools, and governmental entities, we also work occasionally with for-profit entities if the work will address the public good. And, we sometimes work with individual rural residents who have identified a challenge or project--even if they are not in official positions of power or leadership.

Types of Projects

What projects we can take on often is constrained only by our in house expertise, the expertise we can leverage from partners, and the funding we have available, which varies from year to year.

But, we welcome a proposal for any project that relates in some way to our vision and mission and will benefit one or more rural communities of 10,000 or fewer residents.

Phase One Projects

  • Brief description: You have an idea. You think it’s a good idea. Or, you’ve identified a challenge in your community, but you don’t know where to start in learning more about it or addressing it.
  • Who typically applies: Individual, community organization, governmental entity, school.
  • Proposal: Complete the proposal process by describing your project idea, the challenge it addresses, and what brings you to the table.
  • Outcome: A project plan that includes a clear description of the challenge to be addressed, assets that might be utilized, stakeholders to involve, and a scope, direction, and timeline.
  • Typical time frame: one project term.

Phase Two Projects

  • Brief description: You have done some research about a community challenge but want to learn more about it and figure out the best ways to address it. Or, you need help evaluating work you’ve already done and determining recommended next steps.
  • Who typically applies: A community organization, governmental entity, or school.
  • Proposal: Complete the proposal process by describing your work on the issue up to this point, what you hope to learn, and who is involved in your work.
  • Outcome: A report with recommended next steps; a grant proposal; an evaluation report.
  • Typical time frame: One full year.

Phase Three Projects

  • Brief description: You are in the midst of a project that has an end goal and needs a specific type of expertise or work to get done to enhance or finish the project. Or, you have an ongoing need that is cyclical/seasonal, and you need someone to focus on that need.
  • Who typically applies: A community organization, governmental entity, or school with the time and capacity to serve as the primary point person for a faculty member or student intern.
  • Outcome: Varies from project to project. Some examples include a community mural, new content collected for a website, a community garden, or new photos for a website.
  • Typical time frame: One semester to one full year.

When and How Can I Apply?

The best way to start an application is to contact us and schedule a time to talk. To do so, e-mail partnerships@morris.umn.edu and provide a brief overview of your request. We can then determine if the project is a fit for the Center before you begin a project proposal.

Project proposals are announced in March of each year, due in April, and chosen by mid-May. Community partners work with staff to complete a project agreement in May, and projects typically begin the following June, August, or January. Exact dates vary year to year.

We partner with other community development organizations in Minnesota. At times, if we can’t support a proposal, or can only support one part of it, we will connect potential partners with other organizations. Similarly, other community development organizations approach us when they receive proposals that could benefit from our involvement.

Finally, we find that some proposals would work better as community-engaged learning projects that involve a UMN Morris class or volunteer or community building projects coordinated by the Office of Community Engagement. When this is the case, we can seamlessly plan the project with the Office of Community Engagement, which is the other unit in the Center for Community Partnerships.

When Do Projects Happen?

Our project cycles usually align with UMN Morris semesters and include summer (June-mid August); fall (mid-August to mid-December) and spring (mid-January to early May). Exact dates vary each year. But, we are open to projects with start and end dates that do not align with these cycles. And, in most cases, projects continue for a full academic year, or several years.

How Much Does It Cost?

  • Student interns are paid $15 an hour.
  • Faculty are paid between $500-$1,000 in salary + $50 in fringe benefits for each semester they are engaged in a project as a consultant, depending on the complexity of the work.
  • The cost of staff time for administrative and professional staff varies from $150-$750 each semester, depending on the project phase and complexity.
  • The cost of use of Center facilities (a workspace for a student intern and faculty member and routine copying/mailing costs, for instance) is $250/semester.
  • The cost of technology, travel, facility rental, and supplies vary by project.

We typically ask the partnering organization in phase two and three projects to pay between half and the full cost of the project. Phase one project partners typically receive our service for free for one semester. However, at times we have grant funding that focuses on specific types of community needs, and when there is alignment, we can often charge partners less.

When submitting a proposal, we ask partners to take a careful look at all their resources and let us know what they can afford to pay. We then look at proposals and our budget and grants collectively and determine which we can support.