Presented by University of Utah

Both COVID-19 and the government response have disproportionately harmed low wealth communities of color, magnifying long-running injustices. For place-based university engagement efforts working in and with these communities, this new normal challenged our standard operating procedures. COVID guidelines seemed to forbid the in-person, relational work so central to our models. Immediate needs of partners and other community members demanded quick and sustained action, particularly in communities unable to access federal and state supports. At the same time, the obvious failures of our health and economic systems, alongside heightened awareness of racial injustice, opened up new possibilities for systemic change. New funds became available, and as institutions and higher ed units realized their inability to connect with BIPOC communities, demand for the work of place-based engagement increased. How do hyperlocal engagement efforts effectively adapt to this unprecedented time? With limited resources, how do we negotiate both the immediate needs of the neighborhood and the new opportunities for system change? How can this moment be a driver of innovation and creativity, with long-lasting impact on our work? In this interactive session, leaders from University Neighborhood Partners at the University of Utah use their successes and failures pivoting during COVID as a springboard for a co-design process, reimagining place-based community engagement in a time of crisis.