My first semester as Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech (MI) is drawing to a close. Similar to my 60 day update, I would like to share with you selected achievements and strategic activities of the institute. The institute is now home to a number of blossoming research efforts, including a policy informatics network, expanding work on citizen engagement, critical looks at development patterns in distressed cities, and the local and global patterns of community resiliency.
Roundup on Grants and Proposals
We continue to diversify our funded research portfolio. Joe Schilling led the Metropolitan Institute’s effort to partner with the German Marshall Fund and Cleveland State to manage, mentor, and evaluate a new executive fellowship program as part of the Obama Administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative which seeks to build capacity in six economically distressed cities—Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, Fresno, and Chester, PA. Joe and his colleagues at Cleveland State will assess the impacts from the fellowship while mentoring roughly 30 professionals over a 3-year period. Maggie Cowell and I received a seed grant from the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment to build a research program on designing resilient networks for local communities. Read more about the project here. We received an IBM Center for the Business of Government grant to study the role of citizen apps and its influence on governance. Read more about the project here. We are hoping to hear positive responses on several grant proposals we currently have under review.
New and Emerging Partnerships
An institute’s strategic alliances are one of its most valuable assets. Building winning partnerships takes time and effort, and the payoffs for both parties are not immediate. We have spent a great deal of time and effort to connect the Metropolitan Institute with our industry, non-profit, and government friends. We have formed a partnership with ACT for Alexandria, a community foundation dedicated to stimulating philanthropic giving on the local level within Alexandria, VA. The ACTion Alexandria project is a new citizen engagement platform with interactive tools to make it easier for residents to take an active role in addressing community problems. The institute will partner with Act for Alexandria and use the ACTion platform to design and test practices that encourage citizen participation using online tools. Read more on this project here. Tentative collaboration agreements are in place or being cultivated with a number of other organizations including the American Red Cross, the US Green Building Council, the International for City/County Managers Association (ICMA), and City and County of San Francisco, among others. Within Virginia Tech, we continue to work closely with our partners in the Northern Capital Region and Blacksburg on a number of collaborative efforts.
Please continue reading for updates on our work in Community Resiliency, Policy Informatics and exciting international outreach and our vision of the future.