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Morgridge Center supports initiatives through matching grant program

January 27, 2011

The Morgridge Center for Public Service at the University of Wisconsin–Madison recently awarded 11 matching grants totaling $334,739 to support service learning, community-based research or civic engagement work by UW–Madison faculty and researchers in the areas of education, environment or health.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such talented and passionate teams of faculty, staff and students who are working together with community partners to address emerging public needs,” says Nancy Mathews, director of the Morgridge Center. “Their work makes a difference in the lives of people every day, both locally and abroad, and truly represents the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea. We are pleased to support them through the Morgridge Match Program in an effort to advance the university’s service mission and strengthen the role that the Morgridge Center plays in preparing students to become civicly engaged citizens and leaders of the future.”

The fall 2010 grant cycle yielded funding for the following projects:

  • Tribal Community Advisory Boards Create Sustainable Interventions to Environmental Health Barriers. Alexandra Adams, associate professor of family medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, for senior capstone students in the Department of Landscape Architecture to improve Wisconsin American Indian reservation environments to support healthier lifestyles.
  • Service Learning in Uganda: Connecting Health with Agriculture. John Ferrick, director of international programs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, to create an undergraduate service-learning program in collaboration with health and agriculture organizations in Uganda that are working in rural villages there.
  • Madison Commons: A Model for Service Learning in the Field of Journalism. Lewis Friedland, professor of journalism and mass communication, College of Letters and Science, to expand the service-learning journalism curriculum through a community-based reporting project in underserved Madison neighborhoods.
  • HEX: Humanities Exposed. Sara Guyer, associate professor of English, Center for the Humanities, College of Letters and Science, to expand its public scholars program for graduate students to develop humanities-based research projects that address community needs while enhancing the students’ research experience.
  • Addressing the Informational Needs of Latino Immigrant Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum. Sandra Magana, program director, Department of Ethnic Studies and School of Social Work, Graduate School, to create service-learning opportunities through a parent education intervention program delivered in Spanish by community health educators to parents with autistic children.
  • Project Grow: Community-Based Research to Enhance the Development of Low Income Preschoolers and Families. Julie Poehlmann, professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology, to design and implement a new community-based research project aimed at improving its future ability to meet the needs of low-income children, their families and the community partners they work with.
  • Community-Based Research Reducing Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes. Shannon Sparks, assistant professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology, to expand a community-based research project to analyze the qualitative factors that improve birth outcomes among racial minorities.
  • Global Health, Human Flourishing and Environmental Care: Engaged Learning in Interdisciplinary Global Health. Sherry Tanumihardjo, associate professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, to enhance and strengthen the field experience of the undergraduate certificate in global health by providing student travel stipends and funding for community projects and faculty travel.
  • Family-focused Intervention for Latino Families Affected by Parental Depression: A Community Collaboration. Carmen Valdez, assistant professor, Department of Counseling Psychology, School of Education, to explore the feasibility of carrying out a community-based, family-focused intervention program for Latino parents suffering from depression. More than 15 students on the research team will participate in service-learning activities.
  • Community-Based Oral Initiative. Sharon Younkin, director of academic affairs, School of Medicine and Public Health, to provide health profession students service opportunities at a community-based dental clinic for the homeless people.
  • Learning While Sustaining Biodiversity at the Arboretum and Beyond. Joy Zedler, professor of botany, UW Arboretum, to help preserve the biodiversity of the unique ecosystems of the Arboretum by training graduate students to engage neighbors adjacent to the Arboretum to work together on environmental management projects.

Mathews says the center will continue to emphasize the importance of institutionalizing service-learning on campus through the next round of Morgridge Match grants this spring. The application deadline is April 27. The center will allocate up to $150,000 to support new service-learning courses and community-based research.

Launched in the fall of 2009, the Morgridge Match Grant Program matches 50 percent of grants and gifts awarded to UW–Madison campus individuals or entities and community-campus partnerships for new projects that align with the Morgridge Center’s mission and goals.

Faculty members are encouraged to explore ways to initiate or expand community-based research questions, service-learning or community service. Projects may focus on local, regional or international issues.

“We look forward to supporting service-learning and community-based research initiatives proposed by community or university partners in the coming years,” says Mathews. “These collaborations provide vital experiences for university students to help them better understand the relevance of their classroom learning to the community.”

For more information on the program and how to apply, visit and click on Faculty/Staff.