The CUMU Learning & Sharing Virtual Series is a CUMU members-only program focused on critical dialogue with practical takeaways that create action. This virtual series brings together CUMU administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community partners over the course of three months to learn from one another and share challenges and successes on a set of discrete issue areas. This virtual series is offered at no-cost to CUMU members and their partners.

RELATED LINK: CUMU concludes inaugural Learning & Sharing Virtual Series

Spring 2021 issue areas

Each Learning & Sharing Virtual Series is guided by discrete issue areas to focus our collective work. Under each issue area are examples of potential topics for presentations and workshops. For the spring 2021 series, proposals must focus on one of four issue areas.

Supporting the needs of all students (P-16) has been and must continue to be an all-hands-on-deck approach as serious challenges related to the pandemic and civil unrest persist. New partnerships, strategies, and resources have been developed and deployed, in record time, to ensure a continuity of learning and success is feasible. As leaders, we also have a responsibility to ensure that students receive tools and guidance to be lifelong learners and ethical citizens. We are seeking proposals to address the following:

  • Widened success gaps: income/class levels, white students and BIPOC, first generation students, etc.
  • Technology: access, literacy and comfort utilizing new platforms.
  • The learning environment: what new approaches to learning in an urban/metropolitan environment have been experimented with, what new partnerships have formed, etc.?
  • Civic engagement: what practices are providing students with knowledge and resources to be effective, impactful, and ethical leaders while enrolled and after graduating?
  • Basic needs: what practices are effectively supporting students and families lacking basic needs such as food, adequate shelter, and mental health services?
  • Collaborative relationships: pipelines with K-12 districts or community and technical colleges.

Our urban institutions continue to be in crisis-mode, responding both to the needs within our institutions, and serving as anchors, providing critical support to our communities as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. At the same time, we are beginning to look towards a post-COVID-19 reality by developing plans and initiatives to help our campuses and communities recover and re-engage their constituents. This moment in history has also created a window for innovation and rethinking how we work, what we do, and what we can do. We are seeking presentations and solutions addressing these questions and beyond:

  • What initiatives and programs are being developed to support recovery at community and business/economic development levels?
  • How do we sustain the focus on maintaining public health guidelines as the vaccine is deployed? What role can institutions play in ensuring our communities receive factual and accurate public health information?
  • What opportunities or efficiencies have been realized from having to urgently act?
  • Regarding community engagement initiatives, what plans are being developed for re-engagement of students and communities when centers fully re-open? This won’t be a simple, “switching the lights back on” scenario!
  • Are there any adaptations that you think or hope will become permanent?
  • Many communities are sharing how they want to construct a more inclusive and more equitable “new normal.” What changes have been successful on a departmental or institutional level to turn this vision into action?

The murder of George Floyd last May sparked a racial reckoning across the United States and across the globe. As a coalition, members have come together to ensure that this tragic moment in addressing systemic injustices continues, and becomes a successful movement to foster lasting change. We are seeking presentations and workshops that help continue dialogue, but more importantly spur critical action and lead to necessary change.

  • What strategies are working to address equity issues with an intersectional lens?
  • How are you using the anchor mission to address diversity, equity and inclusion work?
  • What can be done to ensure students have the tools to advocate in ways that are peaceful and constructive?
  • How are you navigating setbacks and frustrations in transforming talk into action? (i.e., strong statements condemning racism, but limited meaningful action)
  • How can/are institutional leaders enact change without placing additional burdens on BIPOC students, faculty and staff?
  • In the realm of anti-racism work, how are you identifying and measuring impact? How are you defining success?
  • Individual readiness: How is your department or institution providing learning, training, or other opportunities for folks to examine their own privilege, biases and beliefs?
  • Institutional readiness: How are you ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion work is embedded across all university divisions?
  • How are you successfully showing leadership that investment in this work is imperative even if your institution is struggling financially?
  • How are you ensuring that community-based research, especially with vulnerable populations incorporates community member voices, goals and concerns?

COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis continues to devastate businesses, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, local governments, and in turn, our students and families are struggling. Colleges and universities have programs and initiatives in place to support students, and as a result of the pandemic, their needs are higher than ever. Unfortunately, increased need is being coupled with diminished budgets, so seeking revenue from other sources is necessary. We are seeking presentations that demonstrate success in any of the following areas:

  • Are you examining alternative funding sources, and if so, what success have you found? (i.e. leveraging, monetizing or repurposing unused campus buildings)
  • Can you share how you have effectively balanced needs of numerous stakeholders simultaneously, including donors, political leaders, trustees, etc.?
  • What practices have been successful in furthering the anchor mission on limited budgets?
  • How are you creating opportunities for students to effectively advocate on their own behalf at the institutional, community and federal level? Are there specific tools that have been successful in the virtual setting?
  • How does your institution plan to navigate or leverage the new presidential administration (and changes on the local and state levels, too)?

What’s included in the series?

The Learning & Sharing Virtual Series includes a wide variety of opportunities for CUMU members to do exactly that—learn and share. CUMU members and their partners can engage and take part at any level and shift involvement as necessary to accommodate schedules and needs. Presentations focus on providing members with useful information with actionable steps that can be acted upon in their own communities while also creating space that promotes dialogue to address the critical issues.

Have you experienced success in the implementation of new processes, infrastructure, or policy approaches related to addressing a challenge or issue in your community or institution? Interactive Workshops should be focused; inform on their topic; and engage attendees around a question or task. Presenters could create an interactive component where attendees may work individually or in small groups. Participants should leave with ideas for action. At their core, interactive workshops are how-to sessions. 60–90 minutes.

Have you led a successful project, partnership, program, or case-study that is working at your institution? Presenters should showcase their work and/or methodologies, highlight what worked, and present positive outcomes. 30 minutes, including Q&A.

Lightning presentations are quick, engaging, and should inspire attendees to seek you out to learn more. Most importantly, they are fun. Presenters should highlight an idea, success, approach, or trend; bring to light an issue or challenge; or give a personal perspective on a topic. Presenters can elect to share their screen. Lightning presentations are 10 minutes and are paired with others and include a shared Q&A.

Have questions? We have answers.

If you don’t find your answer, reach out to Paul Davidson, community and program coordinator, at with any additional questions, comments or concerns.

We will notify you of acceptance in early March and you will have options to choose a time that works for your schedule. All sessions will be held between mid-March through mid-May.

No, it’s not too late. We accept and onboard institutional members on a rolling basis. Fees are prorated quarterly based on timing of membership during the fiscal year (July 1–June 30). Our institutional membership dues are modest. Please submit your institution’s membership interest via this form or email Debbie Darr, membership and operations coordinator, at

Yes. We welcome presentations from members and their community partners. Simply list the co-presenter’s university’s affiliation as your institution.

If the lead presenter is affiliated with a member institution and the co-presenter or facilitator is not affiliated with a member, the submission will be accepted. However, if the lead presenter is a non-member, we cannot accept the submission at this time.

Yes. Select the affiliated member institution on the call for proposals site. Community partners vary from institution to institution, but generally we are referring to organizations that are working in collaboration with the CUMU member institution to address challenges and opportunities in their cities and communities. Examples might include nonprofit organizations, schools, local government, workforce and economic development agencies, after school programs, community-based organizations, and healthcare organizations.

Yes. We understand many institutions are facing significant financial constraints due of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we have made many of our offerings available to the public.

CUMU offerings available to everyone include:


January 19: Call opens
February 19: Call closes
Mid-March: Registration opens and virtual series begins
Mid-May: Virtual series ends



Thank you to our working group of CUMU leaders who aid in crafting the issue areas and engagement types for the Learning & Sharing Virtual Series.