Creating Our Futures: A Resilient Communities Knowledge-to-Action Network

Many upstate New York communities have distinctive qualities and resources that are valuable assets for community development. However, decades of historic disinvestment, population loss, and job loss can make it difficult for these communities to thrive. The Creating Our Futures network aims to provide the critical social infrastructure that has been lost to these communities, supporting them as they rebuild this infrastructure locally.

This internship will support the development of the Creating Our Futures Network by working with three pilot site communities involved with the Network to identify: existing development initiatives, including those in the planning and implementation phases; resources within communities that are being, or could be, mobilized for development purposes; local, regional, state, and federal funding opportunities; networking platform models that might be adopted for the purposes of this project; prospective network members; case studies of university-community partnerships centering locally-driven community development initiatives; and projects involving Cornell faculty and students working on community development initiatives.

    Roles and responsibilities 

    The student intern will be responsible to:

    • Understand and map the physical and cultural resources that have been developed to strengthen residents’ ways of supporting community and economic development (asset mapping).
    • Identify and summarizing existing community development initiatives in both the planning and implementation phases, to summarize community goals and progress towards those goals to date.
    • Identify community development professionals and unpaid practitioners (e.g., community members), including Cornell faculty, staff, and students involved in development work, whom might be interested in being part of the Creating Our Futures Network.
    • Identify potential project funding opportunities – those that support: a. Local community development initiatives (e.g. local and regional food systems; disaster preparedness and resiliency; renewable energy; education; health care; entrepreneurship and job training; etc.) b. Overall project goals (e.g. core funding for management; student engagement; research; evaluation and assessment; etc.)
    • Review the scholarly and grey literature for university partnerships with community development organizations to answer: a. What did/do these partnerships focus on? (Their mission/objectives) b. What did/do they look like (structurally)/how did they operate? c. What theories guide or undergird the work? d. How were the projects funded? e. What are their accomplishments to date? f. How did they assess accomplishments?
    • Conduct case-study research on community vitalizing work that increases community resilience.
    • Identify and summarize key components of web-based networking platforms designed to support university-community partnerships or community development initiatives.
    • Share the outcomes of research for feedback

    Qualifications and previous coursework

    This opportunity is available to non-graduating students in Cornell University's College of Human Ecology.

    The ideal candidate will have an interest in:

    • Learning more about community-informed development initiatives.
    • Conducting and sharing research, locally and more broadly, to inform community change and understanding of critical topics.
    • Community-based research methods • Community planning and development • Better understanding and supporting Cornell Cooperative Extension and its many partners, including local government, to address the needs of those it serves.

    Skills Desired:

    • Planning skills
    • Strong communication skills
    • Strong people skills
    • Self-motivation
    • Past experiences with research, surveys and/or interviews, or a strong desire to gain these skills

    Learning outcomes 

    Anticipated learning outcomes for students:

    • How university-community partnerships can have a role in revitalizing communities
    • Community-engagement tools, methods, challenges, & opportunities
    • Community-based-research protocol, including principles, design and implementation
    • Understanding of place-based community development possibilities
    • Knowledge of a diverse array of domestic development funding resources
    • Public speaking and outreach skills
    • Report writing for real-world application
    • Academic writing skills