Engaged Unit Program (EUP): Cohort 2 (2024-2025)

Application Submission Deadline: Friday, November 17, 2023

The Office of Public Engagement is pleased to issue the Cohort 2 (2024-2025) application for the university’s Engaged Unit Program.

The Engaged Unit Program supports teams representing overarching academic units—colleges and schools—in identifying and implementing action steps for furthering the institutionalization of community-engaged research and/or teaching in the academic agendas within their units.

The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racial injustice have required us to focus intently on enacting more effective, reciprocal public engagement efforts as we find ways to contribute solutions to today’s most pressing and challenging societal issues.

As we resume in-person, face-to-face engagement work with communities, it is important to identify strategies within our academic units for ensuring high quality, equitable partnerships and collaborations in light of the significant developments that have occurred over the three past years.

The Engaged Unit Program is designed to support overarching academic units—specifically, colleges and schools—that wish to develop or strengthen research-focused and/or teaching-focused university-community engagement partnership initiatives that enhance the involvement of faculty, staff, and/or students in community-embedded work that advances the unit’s academic agenda.

Post-COVID engagement requires us to think differently about our relationships and collaborations with external partners. Specifically, today’s public engagement requires us to be attentive to:

  • Changed conditions and capacities within the communities to partner with the
  • Differential and heavy impacts that COVID had on underserved communities, and the post-pandemic challenges these communities continue to face.
  • Amplified societal inequities faced by communities due to persistent systemic racism and other forms of discrimination.
  • Increased interest among students and faculty to conduct community-engaged
  • Increased desire among communities to partner with the university and other organizations to address societal challenges.
  • Increased demand from funders for projects that are built on established, sustainable, and reciprocal university-community partnerships.
  • Increased demand from legislators for the university to demonstrate its impact on the state and beyond.
  • The value of having a unitwide and universitywide public engagement
  • The role that public engagement can play in advancing participating units’ academic and scholarly goals and priorities.

The Engaged Unit Program was launched in October 2022. In December 2022, six schools and colleges were selected to participate as members of Cohort 1 to engage in 18 months of public engagement institutionalization work from January 2023 to June 2024.

For Cohort 2 of the program (2024-2025), up to ten overarching academic units (i.e., colleges and schools) will be selected to plan, establish, and implement strategic initiatives (three to five action steps) that advance the integration of public engagement into the units’ research and teaching activities. Their action planning and implementation work will take place between January 2024 and June 2025.

 Units selected to participate will receive up to $15,000 to support the development and implementation of their public engagement institutionalization actions plans, as well as have access to resource materials (books), technical assistance providers, external speakers, and community-based and university-based networks to enhance their community-engaged research and/or teaching.



The Engaged Unit Program builds on the work conducted at other universities to support eligible units in developing and implementing strategic initiatives that further institutionalization of public engagement at the university through the integration of public engagement into the unit’s academic programmatic features. Units that participate in the program focus on elevating the criticality of public engagement in order to build a more engaged college or school.

An engaged college or school is one that:

  • Utilizes public engagement as a strategy to achieve key academic goals for students and
  • Encourages and supports high quality community-based research and engaged scholarship among faculty and/or students.
  • Incorporates public engagement (local and/or global) into academic coursework to enhance student learning and development.
  • Supports collaborative research and teaching activities between members of the unit (faculty, scholars, department leaders, college administrators, staff) and members of the community (non-profits, government, industry, etc.).
  • Develops and implements strategic initiatives that build on, strengthen, and improve existing public and community engagement activities within the unit.
  • Addresses meaningful and important societal issues in collaboration and partnership with external partners.


Focus of the Program

This program supports participating units in developing and enacting plans that identify specific action steps for advancing community- engaged research and/or community-engaged teaching efforts, in light of the changing conditions in communities and at the university, and in consideration of the systemic racial inequities and other critical challenges that communities face.

The development of engaged unit activities under this program might involve but are not limited to the following:

  • Developing and piloting curricular materials that align with community-based courses and overarching collegewide or departmental learning goals for students and that respond to the current issues and contexts in which the community-based efforts are
  • Supporting collegiate and departmental members or leaders for professional development opportunities that enhance their capacity to conduct high quality community-engaged research and/or teaching.
  • Offering unitwide and/or programwide retreats that engage faculty, staff, and community partners in strategic planning to further the institutionalization of public engagement within their work.
  • Building the unit personnel’s understanding of the principles of community-based participatory research that take into account systemic inequities.
  • Developing instruments or benchmarking tools to assess the progress and outcomes of the unit’s and its respective programs’ public engagement activities.


Key Components

Activities that are part of the Engaged Unit Program should include all the following components:

  • An identification of the unit’s key teaching and/or research goals for students and faculty, as appropriate.
  • An articulation of some of the ways that public engagement activities can have value added in achieving the unit’s goals articulated in #1.
  • The development of collaborative partnerships with community members (local or global) that consider the communities’ state of affairs post-pandemic and are based on producing mutual benefits, reciprocity, and long-term sustainability.
  • The development of a strategic, action-focused plan that advances the integration of public engagement into the programmatic features of the college and its academic units/departments.
  • The implementation of the activities of the action plan developed in #4.
  • Monitoring the institutionalization of public engagement into the unit’s teaching and/or research activities.
  • Consideration of the ways in which the unit’s public engagement efforts might enhance the goals of the university’s strategic plan.

The university’s public engagement efforts take place in many different community contexts, from local to global and include partnerships with a broad range of external stakeholders and sectors. Each effort and partnership brings with it a unique set of circumstances and situations that warrant consideration and careful planning.


Team Criteria and Expectations

Unit Teams: Up to ten (10) collegewide and/or schoolwide teams will be selected to participate in the program. Each team will consist of at least four individuals who will serve as representatives of the unit’s engagement work and action planning efforts. Each unit team must include the following members:

  • at least one individual who serves in a unitwide academic leadership role (dean, associate dean, dean designee, director, associate director).
  • at least two faculty from the unit (at least one of whom is a tenure line faculty member).
  • at least one other member, including but not limited to other faculty members, unit staff members, students, and community partners.

Note: There is no maximum limit to the number of individuals who can serve on a unit team.

Engaged Unit Program

The members of each of the selected teams will participate as a cohort in a three-phased, 18-month institute that includes:

  • Planning and Development of a strategic action plan for conducting post-pandemic public engagement within the unit (spring semester 2024).
  • Implementation of the action steps within the plan (2024-2025 academic year).
  • Reporting to document lessons learned that can be shared campuswide, and to provide some documentation of the different approaches units use to conduct and institutionalize public

Planning and Development (spring 2024):

The members of the teams will meet in spring 2024 for two mandatory half-day meetings (each lasting three hours) on action planning for public engagement institutionalization. These meetings will be held on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 9:00 AM – 12:00 noon and Wednesday, May 8, 2024, 9:00 AM – 12 noon.

All team members are expected to attend these meetings.

The first meeting, Wednesday, January 31, 2024 (9 AM – noon) will explore the essential elements of high-quality public engagement, as they pertain to advancing the research and teaching goals of academic units. This meeting will include discussion regarding challenging and changing conditions in communities as a result of COVID, persistent systemic inequities, and other important issues. Participants will engage in a review of the action planning template that teams will use to complete their respective action plan. This template engages team members in articulating goals to be accomplished and key action steps to be implemented over the course of the program to achieve each participating unit’s identified public engagement implementation and institutionalization goals.

Following this first meeting, each unit team will work throughout the spring 2024 semester to flesh out and refine its Engaged Unit Action Plan.


During the second meeting, Wednesday, May 8, 2024 (9 AM – noon), the members of each Engaged Unit Team will present their respective action plan and solicit peer feedback from the other teams. Each team will then refine and finalize its plan and action steps to prepare for its year-long implementation starting in the fall 2024 semester.

Implementation (fall 2024 and spring 2025): Each Engaged Unit team will implement its action plan during the 2024-2025 academic year. During this period, there will be two mandatory 90-minute meetings (one per semester, dates to be determined) to discuss each group’s progress and share helpful materials and information. Teams are required to send at least one representative to each of these two 90-minute meetings.

Reporting: One mandatory final meeting (3 hours) will be held at the end of the spring 2025 semester (date to be determined) to review each team’s implementation progress, to assess the progress of the unit’s engagement work, and to identify next steps.


Expectation and Deliverables

Engaged Unit teams that wish to participate in this program agree to the following:

  1. Actively participate in all aspects of the Engaged Unit Program, including participating in the required three-hour planning meetings (January 31, 2024 and May 8, 2024), the two 90-minute implementation meetings (fall 2024 and spring 2025, to be scheduled), and the final 3-hour full-team meeting (spring 2025, to be scheduled).
  2. Complete a pre- and post-self-assessment of the level of institutionalization of public engagement within the unit (rubric to be provided).
  3. Develop, implement, and refine an engaged unit action plan (template to be provided) that will further the integration of public engagement into research and/or teaching activities within the unit in consideration of post-pandemic engagement and the systemic racism and inequities present in society.
  4. Prepare a brief final report (2-3 pages of bulleted notes, template to be provided) at the end of the program that articulates the unit’s experience and lessons learned in this Engaged Unit Program.


Funding Priority and Criteria

Priority for funding will be given to proposals that:

  • Offer specific details on unitwide and programwide efforts that will take place to integrate public engagement more fully into the unit’s teaching and/or research activities in ways that advance the unit’s academic priorities and agenda.
  • Include plans to assess the short- and/or long-term benefits to faculty, students, the units and their programs, and/or the community.
  • Articulate the importance of this grant to advance and/or sustain public engagement
  • Offer visions for what the unit will look like at the end of the grant period and
  • Supplement the Engaged Unit funding with additional support from the college/school or other sources.
  • Use the Engaged Unit funding to leverage other resources to support community- engaged research and/or community-engaged teaching within the unit.

Funds from this grant initiative can be used for any purpose that supports the advancement of the team’s engagement action plan. These funds may be combined with other university or external funding sources. An 18-month budget (January 2024 – June 2025), against which college/school teams can charge expenditures, will be allocated in January 2024. However, the actual disbursement of funds will occur in three phases: 50% of funds after submission of a completed action plan in spring 2024, 25% of funds at the end of the fall 2024 semester, and 25% of funds at the end spring 2025, after final reports and documents are submitted.


Support to be Provided

Engaged Unit Teams selected for the program will be provided access to a set of resources, materials, technical assistance, and other support to guide the department’s planning and implementation activities. Each team is eligible to receive up to $15,000 to support the development and implementation of their institutionalization action plan. The resources may be used to (but not limited to):

  • Present specific details on the team’s action plan at unitwide or programwide meetings or retreats.
  • Purchase materials, books, or other resources that support the advancement of the team’s action planning or program implementation.
  • Pay for speakers to offer perspectives that advance the team’s public engagement
  • Leverage the support to supplement other resources that support the engaged unit’s team plan.

During the project period, the Office of Public Engagement will work with each team to secure the necessary support and technical assistance to advance each team’s goals.


Application Process

Complete and submit the application (as a PDF) by Friday, November 17, 2023 at the link below. Only those applications received by end of business Friday, November 17, 2023 will be considered for funding.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their grant application by Friday, December 8, 2023.