UMass Boston

Special Initiatives

The Office of Community Partnerships has recently launched new initiatives and programs that are run by the office that further engage, strengthen and promote impactful collaborations.

Practitioner Scholars Program (PSP) Pilot

Launched in Fall 2018, the Practitioner Scholars Program (PSP) pilot is a unique innovative co-teaching model created and led by Cynthia Orellana at the Office of Community Partnerships at UMass Boston. It is designed to address equity and social justice in education through stipended co-teaching partnerships between faculty and community practitioners sharing equal space in the classroom with shared ownership of the curriculum and pedagogy of their co-taught course. It has an explicit mission of attracting women and BIPOC community leaders across diverse fields as co-instructors as a way to ensure our students can see themselves in their professors as UMass Boston has a majority student body of people from minoritized communities. These co-taught courses constitute student projects that are meant to benefit the community and the students through the practitioner’s network and expertise of work that is impactful for the community and connecting that with the academic expertise of faculty members through seamless integration in a redesigned course. Through and with community leaders, our students have worked on impactful projects and activities reaching youth through the arts, researching and influencing local city operations, supporting Black women-owned businesses, delivering community workshops on racial justice, developing environmental justice plans for local neighborhoods, and lifting up personal narratives of the impact of COVID-19. 

Learn more about the pilot model and our current and past participants.

Civic Action Fellowship Program

Led in partnership with the Office of Community Partnerships, Student Multicultural Affairs, & Student Leadership & Community Engagement, the Civic Action Fellowship Program seeks to engage a diverse cohort of students in local civic life. Our goal is to support the next generation of civic leaders by increasing the participation of Students of Color and other marginalized identities in the Greater Boston area. Fellows will build their civic agency and skills for collective action through an internship with community-based organizations and through biweekly workshops with community-engaged leaders. Fellows will receive a $500 scholarship per semester in the program. Read more.

UMass Boston in Public Service 

A new initiative of the Office of Community Partnerships in collaboration with the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, Office of Alumni Engagement and Office of Career Services, UMass Boston in Public Service seeks to lift-up the work university faculty, staff, students, and alumni are engaged in with and for the public locally, nationally, and globally. Through a series of events and story-building campaigns, the initiative seeks to build a sense of pride, establish our relevance in addressing issues of importance in the community, and create a network of public servants that can champion our urban public mission.

Annual Fireside Chat Series

OCP convenes a dialogue at the beginning of the calendar year (January/February) with faculty and leaders across Boston following the spirit of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The fireside chat is an opportunity to deepen the dialogue about community-based partnerships, the role of the university in the greater community and how we can engage in building reciprocity and impactful change together with integral partners. The themes change every year, but the space for networking and sharing honest dialogue about contemporary issues remains constant.

"Circle of Practice" Community Engaged Campus Dialogue Series 

This series invites faculty and staff who are currently engaged or interested in engaging in community-centered scholarship, teaching and service leadership. The dialogues aim at providing a space for faculty and staff to connect across disciplines, learn and share their community-engaged practices, form collaborations and foster networks that allow us to grow our impact. See our co-developed guide on centering justice and care in community-engaged work at UMass Boston inspired by participants in the Fall 2020 event in this series here.

Partnership Initiatives

UMass Boston engages with over 2022 partners through more than 837 projects through the passion and energy of our faculty, staff, and institutes and centers. As part of our mission to “stand with the city” and be relevant to current community-determined needs, OCP spearheads strategic multi-dimensional partnership initiatives intended to further anchor and grow our work in Boston and the Commonwealth. Below are our most recent initiatives.

UMass Boston – City of Boston, Mayor’s Office

This partnership has flourished into a series of events and activities focused on creating pathways into City Hall for a diversity of students and to increase UMass Boston students’ participation in tackling today’s challenges.

  • “Boston City Insider”: In partnership with UMass Boston Career Services and Internships, the series reaches students to learn about careers and paid opportunities with the City of Boston as well as build knowledge and understanding of City departments and services through networking with individuals who carry out departmental work. Read the news article about the inaugural event of this series from October 2018.
  • “Mayor’s Challenge Symposium”: In 2019, in partnership with the Honors College and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services, UMass Boston students explored barriers to care for various marginalized communities in the City of Boston, with the goal of identifying ways to increase equity in access to services. Read the news article from April 2019.
  • Honors College Shadow Days: Students in the Honors College are offered an opportunity to gain on-the-ground experience of the inner workings of the City and develop strong relationships with public officials.

Commonwealth Seminar

The Commonwealth Seminar is a six-week interactive seminar held at the Massachusetts State House, founded in 2003 with the mission of “opening the doors of government to everyone” where participants meet with top legislators, legislative staff, media members, and policymakers. Through OCP’s partnership with the Commonwealth Seminar, UMass Boston students and recent alumni are able to participate in this opportunity with a scholarship offered through the seminar. The goal of the partnership is for UMass Boston to support the Commonwealth Seminar’s vision of growing and strengthening the pipeline of women and BIPOC into public service. Read the news article from March 2020.