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By Selena Stevens


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The East End Community Outreach Partnership Center uses a multidisciplinary focus to address problems in the community and involves faculty and graduate students from four UK colleges.

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Feb. 1, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- The University of Kentucky announced today a new $400,000 initiative, supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/Office of Policy Development and Research, aimed at bettering the lives of people in an east Lexington community.

The East End Community Outreach Partnership Center, based at the YWCA Phillis Wheatley Center, 647 Chestnut St., will help residents address the family, educational, housing and neighborhood revitalization issues. UK President Lee T. Todd Jr., UK Dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences Retia Walker, Lexington Mayor Pam Miller and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman George Brown were on hand to officially open the center.

The uniqueness of this initiative is the partnership between the university, residents and more than 22 community-based organizations and local government agencies.

This project uses a multidisciplinary focus to address problems in the East End Community and involves faculty and graduate students from four UK colleges - Architecture, Education, Human Environmental Sciences and Social Work.

"This is an opportunity for the university to become more engaged in the community and better carry out its land-grant mission of helping all people of the Commonwealth," said Walker, principal investigator of the grant program. "UK is an 'engaged university' that values the contributions of faculty outreach scholarship, student service learning and residents to make a difference in the community."

The Community Outreach Partnership Center will focus on awareness, options and opportunities for residents and will help mobilize them to become advocates for change.

Four programs will be offered:

-- The Community-Family Resource Program will create six Village Exchange Groups in which residents will share knowledge and skills as they work toward becoming self-sufficient, participate in community leadership training and benefit from improved coordination of community-based services. Celia Hayhoe of the College of Human Environmental Sciences and Robin Ersing of the College of Social Work will provide leadership for this program. Ersing is the project's co-principal investigator.

-- The Family Educational Resource Program will help families bridge gaps between home and school and assist them in understanding the effect of administrative and programmatic decisions on their children. The goal is to increase student performance in school, decrease dropout rates and increase employment opportunities through enhanced educational options. Leah Nellis of the College of Education is the leading this program.

-- The Housing Revitalization Program will help residents improve housing conditions, address fair housing and landlord-tenant issues and increase opportunities for repairs and home ownership. Michaele Pride-Wells of the College of Architecture is this program's faculty leader.

-- The Neighborhood Revitalization Program will promote business development in the area, provide small business training and promote "Adopt A Block" clean-up projects. David Mohney, dean of the College of Architecture and co-principal investigator, will provide leadership for this program. The center's activities will be coordinated by Robin Taylor, a professional social worker on loan from the Youth Services Division of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

Space for the project is being provided by the Phillis Wheatley YWCA. Other agencies and community-based organizations are providing a variety of in-kind services in support of this project. Volunteers are being recruited from the community to assist and become involved, Walker said.

"The answers are out there," she said. "We just need to come together, iron out the issues and start working on the solutions."

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