The University of Findlay, in partnership with United Way of Hancock County and the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, announced the creation of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), a community endeavor that supports existing coalitions in their efforts to address the region’s most complex social issues. It will be located in the Center for Student Life and College of Business Building, which is expected to open in summer 2017.
The event, held today in the Davis Street building, was attended by University and community leaders, who emphasized the need for collaborative engagement focusing on alleviating problems such as food insecurity and substance abuse.
United Way Director John Urbanski thanked UF for its involvement and spearheading what he considers a vital effort. He said when he began working at United Way in January 2013, “It was really apparent I needed to find out what the community’s wishes were.” Business leaders suggested “we have to stop putting a Band-Aid on things,” he explained. Health and needs assessments led to coalition formation. The CCE will help those seven coalitions collaborate.
“It’s not like we’re creating something new” with the CCE, Urbanski explained, “We’re trying to find a way to get people to work together.”
Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation President and CEO Kathy Kreuchauf said the organization “appreciates the University’s vision and commitment to contributing to the wellbeing of our entire community.”
The CCE will provide the backbone for organizations and individuals interested in developing holistic approaches for greater efficiency and success. The University will lead the charge by contributing academic and organizational expertise, and space for collaboration, according to Tricia Valasek, grants manager for UF.
Organizers hope the center will be used for ideas that, for instance, will eliminate duplication of services and that recognize the interconnectivity of circumstances adversely affecting the region’s citizens.
For the past year, a team from UF has been working behind the scenes to educate agency leaders about the CCE concept and to train facilitators on the coalition building process being implemented community-wide.
Kevin Renshler, Ph.D., Dean of UF’s College of Business, said students, faculty and staff will help with data collection and hope to be part of discussions that will achieve positive results. Business faculty, when meeting this summer, identified community service as a priority moving forward, he said.
The CCE will enjoy a first-floor presence in the Center for Student Life and College of Business, with a room located near leadership and meeting spaces. “The College of Business and the entire University are committed to seeing this play out,” Renshler said.
Valasek said the CCE concept is derived from Columbus, Indiana, which has been working to improve education for more than a decade. Findlay will be the first community to simultaneously tackle so many issues in such a way, she said.
“I have no doubt we will be successful in the work we do” at the CCE, Valasek said.
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