The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) counts 239 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations across North America as members. In June, the organization named six finalists for its Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards, to be presented in San Diego, California, in November:
IEP Place Award
Recognizing that many students from a local high school in a low-income area weren’t planning on attending college because they didn’t have the experiences and tools necessary to do so, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) surveyed the community and found financial issues were the biggest barrier to college access. So CSUN launched the Bridge to the Future (B2F) program, which provides a four-year, tuition-free education to a cohort of students from the school district. As new cohorts are launched, CSUN aims to have 100 students per year in the program.
Purdue University launched its Center for Regional Development in 2005 to deepen its economic engagement across the state and region. Partnering with Ball State University, the center’s Hometown Collaboration Initiative works to grow local capacity in leadership and economic placemaking, and has worked with 19 Indiana communities, recruited 400 Hoosiers to serve on local committees and drawn more than 1,200 residents to community forums.
IEP Innovation Award
The University of Michigan’s Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP) launched in 2015 to help emerging companies connect to researchers and labs at the state’s public universities. The program co-funds projects statewide through a network of 15 public universities called the Michigan Corporate Relations Network. SCIP to date has facilitated 80 collaborative projects involving nearly 70 companies that led to over $1.7 million in awards.
The University of South Florida (USF) worked with community partners to drive development in the underutilized center of downtown Tampa. USF Health’s new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute is anchoring the construction of Water Street Tampa — a $3 billion urban business, innovation, residential and tourist destination.
IEP Talent Award
At North Carolina State University, the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic works to integrate research, teaching, and work-and-learning opportunities to help students build the next generation of businesses in Raleigh. Since the program launched in 2015 with just nine students, the Clinic has increased service to include nearly 800 students representing 22 majors. Since 2015, 17 student startups have launched, raising over $5.6 million in outside funding.
Recognizing the far-reaching impact of illiteracy on the community, Wayne State University established the Office of Adult Literacy in 2012 and launched the Harris Literacy Program in 2013. The literacy center has served more than 1,700 Detroiters since 2013. Additionally, Wayne State launched a suite of programs in 2018-19 to help adults with some college, but no degree, reaching out to nearly 53,000 individuals. As a result of these city-wide and regional collaborations, Detroit was recently recognized as a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation.
Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.