Relationship building and personal connections are fundamental to the CUMU mission. CUMU Huddles are informal, member-driven by design, opportunities to facilitate professional relationships across the coalition. CUMU Huddles aim to gather participants from across the CUMU membership, either by topic area or professional role, to cover issues aligned with the urban-engaged mission of CUMU’s member institutions.

CUMU Huddles will launch in January 2022 as a space for CUMU members and their partners to share ideas, process shared challenges, and connect with one another virtually for a minimum of six times during the year.


CUMU offers a huddle and other programming exclusively for presidents and chancellors of member institutions.

Community Engagement Evaluation Huddle

HUDDLE LEAD: Paul Kuttner, University of Utah
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Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Huddle

HUDDLE LEAD: Crystal Montalvo, College of Staten Island, CUNY
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Homelessness & Housing Insecurity Huddle

HUDDLE LEAD: Jacen Greene, Portland State University
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Hyperlocal Engagement Directors Huddle

HUDDLE LEAD: John Kirby Jr, Drexel University
Learn More

Community Engagement Evaluation Huddle

Evaluation—seeking to understand what we are accomplishing and holding ourselves accountable for doing what we intend to do—can be a powerful learning process. It can be a chance to build self-knowledge, improve practice, and dialogue with partners. It can also satisfy funding requirements and help make the case to our institutions for continued support. Documenting and telling our stories can draw in new partners, connect people across projects, and inform larger movements for community engagement and social change.

However, evaluation comes with many challenges, such as the different data demands of stakeholders and scarcity of time and resources. More fundamentally, Western, neoliberal frameworks for quantifying “outcomes” and “impact” are often at odds with the complex, relational, humanistic, and transformative nature of partnership work. In this CUMU Huddle, we will explore best practices and next practices in evaluating and documenting community-campus partnerships. We will have opportunities to share successes and struggles across our institutions, and will bring in speakers who are exploring the frontiers of this work. Our agenda will be guided by the interests of those who participate. Join us!

Paul Kuttner is associate director at University Neighborhood Partners, University of Utah. In this role, Paul builds university-community partnerships that promote educational equity, access, and justice for young people while producing valuable knowledge to advance scholarship and social change. A native of Boston, Paul earned his masters and doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to his doctoral studies, Paul worked as an educator, teaching theater, creative writing, and civic engagement in schools and community organizations across Chicago.

Paul is a qualitative researcher, committed to engaged scholarship conducted in partnership with youth, schools, and communities. Paul’s research focuses on the interconnections between educational institutions and communities that have been marginalized by the education system. Specific topics include family engagement, parent and youth organizing, university-community partnerships, and the role of culture in education and social change. Paul is a co-author, with Karen Mapp, of Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships, and a co-editor of Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline (HER, 2012). His work has been published in both academic and popular venues, including Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, and Curriculum Inquiry.



Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Huddle

What’s possible? Exploring what it means to be an HSI from a place-based perspective.

New and aspiring HSI’s often work on becoming an HSI in status and practice through asset-based and participatory frames; placing students and the communities they come from at the center of our efforts. Community engagement professionals have a critical role to play, and a unique expertise that could serve the asset-based and participatory goals of this institutional transition from PWI to HSI. Moreover, as we partner with our surrounding communities in reciprocal and asset-based ways, what would it mean if our HSI status was an intentional pillar of our community engagement, and existing place-based and anchor mission initiatives?

This CUMU Huddle is intended for community engagement professionals seeking to share their stories, and explore the complexities, challenges, and opportunities presented for our PWIs in transition

Additional questions we could explore are:

  • What parts of our approaches as PWIs in transition, come into question as we make space for an HSI identity?
  • How is our community engagement and cradle-to-career anchor work impacted, when increasingly our students are from, and reflect the surrounding community?
  • How do we foster a sense of belonging among students and partners?
  • How can we be more intentional about the pipeline or feeder opportunities this presents for our institutions?
  • How do we build bridges across campus with chief diversity officers and enrollment management in this effort?
  • How can place-based perspectives inform our institutional transitions?

Crystal Montalvo joined the College of Staten Island/CUNY (CSI) in July 2018 as director of community educational engagement. As a key convener of the College’s anchor mission, Crystal manages community-based partnerships, and oversees nationally recognized pre-college programs, as well as innovative non-credit bearing models for enrichment and life-long learning. Prior to this role, Crystal directed civic engagement programs, local public health and development campaigns, school-based community partnerships, and the 30,000 Degrees Initiative—an alliance among three IHEs to increase the number of college graduates from their shared region. Crystal is also a proud member of CSI’s inaugural cohort and EdD program in Community-Based Leadership.



Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Huddle

Homelessness and housing insecurity are pressing issues not just in our broader community, but also in our campus communities as well. National estimates by The Hope Center at Temple University show that 14% of college and university students recently experienced homelessness, and nearly half experienced housing insecurity. In a multi-institution survey, The Hope Center also found that 8% of instructional staff had experienced homelessness, and a third had experienced housing insecurity. Nationwide, more than 580,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. Among students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community, homelessness disproportionately impacts people of color and other groups most affected by historical and current marginalization and discrimination.

This group brings together faculty, staff, and administrators from across the CUMU network to share resources and best practices, discuss promising new approaches, and develop research projects to better understand and address homelessness and housing insecurity among students, employees, and the broader community.

Jacen Greene is co-founder and assistant director of Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to addressing issues related to homelessness through a racial equity lens. He previously designed and managed social innovation programs in PSU’s School of Business, and is an instructor, speaker, and author on social entrepreneurship.

Jacen’s books include The Rule of One: The Power of Social Intrapreneurship and Elevating Impact: Case Studies in Sustainable Business and Social Entrepreneurship. He has contributed chapters to three other books on social innovation, published in the Social Enterprise Journal, and co-authored several award-winning case studies.

He has led workshops for Mercy Corps, the Fulbright Program, and AmeriCorps, and has presented at the Net Impact Conference, VentureWell OPEN, Swarthmore Engaged Scholarship Symposium, Ashoka U Exchange, and Social Enterprise World Forum, among many others.

Jacen graduated Beta Gamma Sigma with an MBA in sustainability from Portland State University and magna cum laude with a B.A. in China Studies from Willamette University. He has worked or taught in Uganda, Tunisia, India, China, Cambodia, Honduras, and Nicaragua.



Hyperlocal Engagement Directors Huddle

Place-based Community Engagement Professionals (CEPs) who are leading neighborhood-embedded engagement-initiatives will find like-minded people and voices at the Hyperlocal Directors Huddle. This CUMU Huddle will not only center shared experiences unique to directors and other CEPs, but will also ground efforts in equity and social justice, relationship building, operations and procedures, strengths-based approaches, and more, with the hope of uncovering how the group’s hyperlocal community engagements contribute to transformative outcomes. How are we making a difference?

John is the executive director of Drexel University’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. He has a background in community engagement and public health and is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist. He works from the belief that a community’s health is greatly affected by both its socioeconomic environment and socio-behavioral factors. He was raised in Washington, DC in neighborhoods much like the ones he serves today.

He graduated from Temple University with a B.S. in kinesiology and completed a biomedical sciences program at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He served in multiple positions while working at Quality Community Health Care, Inc, a network of non-profit health centers in North Philadelphia: front desk; office manager; and finally, as a care manager. This final position brought him together with other health professionals in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Chronic Care Initiative, where they aimed to find ways to reduce cost, improve access and improve the quality of care. He later took a position as the Fitness & Wellness Trainer at Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University. He received his Master of Public Health degree from Drexel University in 2015, and with it continued to spread a culture of health. That year, he was promoted to Director of Community Health and Wellness, tasked with leading the center in its engagement with the community and local strategic partnerships; creating marketing and communication strategies; planning community based health events and programming; and evaluating feedback from the community about how the center can improve its effectiveness. In 2017, he helped lead a team of city health professionals, in partnership with a Pennsylvania State Representative, in its planning of a 2-day LEARN Conference (Leveraging Emotional wellness And Resiliency Networks).

Currently he leads the Dornsife Center in its mission to harness the power of the University, partnering with local communities for matters of shared importance. The Dornsife Center works with partners to develop and host a number of program, services and activities that respond to the interest of local communities, and create opportunities for university students to apply their learning.