Improving quality of life in Benton Harbor
May 9, 2001
KALAMAZOO -- Faculty and staff members at Western Michigan University are expanding their efforts to aid community development in Benton Harbor, thanks to a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Community Partnerships.
The $399,996 "Community Outreach Partnership Center" grant was awarded to WMU's Center for Community Asset Building. Founded in 1996, the University's center aims to strengthen communities' financial, physical, social, political and human/intellectual assets. The center has formed a special relationship with the Benton Harbor area, partnering with a number of community organizations to build individual and organizational capacity and to improve the quality of life within the city.
"In 1999, the University participated in an economic summit in Benton Harbor, which involved a variety of community leaders and representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and HUD," says Sharon L. Anderson, director of the Center for Community Asset Building. "It was determined that our center would focus its community outreach efforts on Benton Harbor, working on a number of initiatives over a period of years. The COPC project is one part of a holistic strategy for the city of Benton Harbor."
WMU faculty and staff members from a variety of disciplines are involved in the three-pronged project funded by the grant. Project components include:
"This program is an excellent example of the way WMU partners with agencies and community members to improve the quality of life in Southwest Michigan," says Anderson, who received a "Building Better Communities Award" last year from former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. "It's also an opportunity for us to draw on the diverse strengths of our faculty, staff and students to make a real difference."
Media contact: Jessica English, 616 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org