The Local Voice

University of Mississippi Supports Community Partnership Projects


Projects range from youth nutrition programs to sustainable farmers market activities

The University of Mississippi has awarded funding to six projects aimed at increasing collaboration between the institution and the Lafayette County and Oxford communities.

The Community Engaged Partnership Development Fund grants are awarded by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and support the UM Empower Now strategic plan.

“Providing these grants allows us to support and recognize a wide variety of collaborative projects and move them toward goals that will ultimately benefit both the university and community,” said Castel Sweet, director of community engagement and assistant professor of practice in community engagement.

The fund provides up to $1,000 to support projects proposed by Ole Miss faculty, staff and students. The partnerships may include aspects such as outreach, consulting and shared leadership among university and community members.

Ryan Parsons, assistant professor of Southern studies and sociology, has received an award to work with the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner to design oral history projects. The oral histories will be related to the memory of Emmett Till and his family.

“The ETIC has been at the forefront of preserving and sharing public history in the Mississippi Delta, and I’m excited to work with them to strengthen their connection to the university,” Parsons said. “This semester, I’ll be working with students in S St 560: Oral Histories of Southern Social Movements, to design some pilot projects in Tallahatchie and surrounding counties.”

Parsons anticipates that the work will expand to assist other ETIC partners. In the past, the center has hosted a documentary and filmmaking camp for high school students. Parsons hopes that these students will be able to help film their interviews.

“The Community Partnership Development Fund grant gives the ETIC and me the flexibility to test out innovative collaborations like this,” he said. “I’m appreciative of the Division for Diversity and Community Engagement’s willingness to help us rethink what our relationship with Mississippi communities looks like.”

Other new projects supported by the Community Engaged Partnership Development Fund and their awardees are:

This is the second round of grants that the Community Engaged Partnership Development Fund has awarded since its inception.

“The fund was developed to help partnerships that are at the beginning stages because doing work together is key to creating long-lasting, mutually beneficial and, hopefully, transformative work,” said Avery McNeece, assistant director for community partnerships in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Center for Community Engagement.

“The funding helps them carry thoughts and plans into actions.”

By Erin Garrett

One of the Community Engaged Partnership Development Fund grants awarded this year aims to expand marketing efforts for farmers markets hosted at the university in partnership with the Oxford Community Market organization. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services
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