By Shannon Vicic
The Partnership Illinois Council has awarded 19 "seed grants" to UI faculty members to fund new outreach programs throughout the state.
Among the faculty proposals to receive funding are a civic education course for community leaders in East St. Louis, Ill., a program to help the state's rural communities attract tourism dollars, and several Internet-based classes for Illinois children.
The "seed grant" program, part of the campus's Partnership Illinois initiative to highlight and strengthen its outreach to the state, was established to encourage faculty members to "plant and cultivate" outreach programs to address current and developing needs in Illinois.
UI professors turned in 99 proposals, which were reviewed by 13 faculty committees, each representing a specific sector group, such as kindergarten through 12th grade education, food and fiber, information technology, etc. The Partnership Illinois Council, made up of faculty members and deans, selected the grant-winning programs from the proposals forwarded by the committees.
Julie Fesenmaier, a senior research specialist at the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development, will manage "Tourism Enterprise Development in Rural Illinois," a program to help prepare community leaders of rural communities in Southern Illinois to become more competitive in attracting tourism dollars.
Submitted to the council by UI professors Vicki Fitzsimmons (agricultural and consumer economics), John van Es (human and community development) and Dan Fesenmaier (leisure studies), the proposal draws upon years of tourism-related research conducted by the professors as well as a survey of Southern Illinois communities conducted by the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development during the past five years.
"In our survey, we found that many small, rural communities have given up on the idea of attracting a major manufacturing plant and instead are looking to tourism as a vehicle for economic and community development," Julie Fesenmaier said.
"In addition, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism has identified tourism development as a major need of rural communities in Illinois."
The program was awarded $12,000, which will fund two workshops to help community leaders develop short-term and long-range tourism plans, and another workshop to help owners and managers of small businesses succeed in tourism-related enterprises.
Along with the workshops, the organizers are creating an educational booklet to help Southern Illinois communities compete more effectively for state and federal tourism development dollars.
"There are literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants available to rural communities for tourism development," Fesenmaier said.
"So one of the first things we want to do is develop a how-to booklet on writing a tourism-development plan that can also be used by community leaders as a guide for writing grant proposals."
The organizers selected Southern Illinois as the initial site of the program because they were familiar with the area through previous research and already had established a network of local contacts who could identify those the program might help.
If the tourism-development program is successful in Southern Illinois, Fesenmaier hopes it can be extended to other rural communities in the state.
Another grant-winning proposal, submitted by UI professors Andrea Beller (agricultural and consumer economics) and Elizabeth Powers (economics and Institute of Government and Public Affairs), is aimed at helping the state meet the provisions of the welfare-reform bill.
"Incentives built into the federal reform law require states to meet certain goals, and if the states don't meet those goals, they can be penalized," Beller said.
"Under the provisions of the reform bill, states will have to attain paternity-establishment rates of 90 percent for out-of-wedlock births. In Illinois, the paternity-establishment rate is approximately 40 percent."
Paternity needs to be established in out-of-wedlock births before the father can be required to pay child support.
Illinois recently has developed several pilot programs designed to increase the state's paternity-establishment rate, and the director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid's Division of Paternity Establishment has asked the professors to evaluate those programs to determine their effectiveness.
The professors were awarded a $15,000 grant to conduct the evaluation. Beller is a well-known expert on child support and the author of "Small Change: The Economics of Child Support"; Powers specializes in welfare and welfare reform.
For Beller, the Partnership Illinois seed grant couldn't have come at a better time. The project not only benefits the state, but also gives her a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the changes in welfare and child support that have resulted from the reform bill.
"It's an ideal time to work at the state level because everything new concerning welfare reform and child-support enforcement is happening at that level."
The competition for seed grants will be held annually by the Partnership Illinois Council, with a second round of grants available in the spring. Interested faculty members should contact Pam Hohn, Office of the Chancellor, at 333-6394.
Other proposals funded by Partnership Illinois seed grants:
--Paul Magelli, Office for the Study of Business Issues, $15,000, to implement the FastTrac Entrepreneurship Certification Program and the MBA Student Consulting Services for businesses and not-for-profit agencies; and to develop Family Business Services program.
--Thomas E. Emerson, anthropology, $7,500, to create an ongoing program to educate government personnel, professional preservationists and preservation researchers about state and federal historic preservation regulations and administration.
--Dianne M. Pinderhughes, Afro-American Studies and Research Program and political science, $15,000, to work with the Champaign County African-American History Committee to document the history of African Americans in Champaign County through the collection and management of historical documents, and the circulation of those documents to schools, libraries and other public institutions.
--John Braden, agricultural and consumer economics, $15,000, to create an Illinois River Basin Information Bureau that will expand awareness of the Illinois River valley as a natural resource for the state and promote public involvement in the implementation of a management plan for the renewal of the river and its tributaries.
--Ronald D. Smith, veterinary pathobiology, and Garry Bird, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, $13,680, to enhance educational and outreach activities in the area of food safety by establishing a presence for the C-U Public Health District on the World Wide Web.
--Alfred Hubler and Inga Karliner, physics, and William Patterson, Urban League of Champaign County, $8,900, to develop and test a pilot 15-week mathematics and computer literacy enrichment program, CyberClub, for disadvantaged 12- to 14-year-olds. The Web-based program will use CyberProf, an interactive learning tool developed by Hubler.
--Debra Woods and J.J. Uhl, mathematics, and Marlene Wentworth, Continuing Education and Public Service, $9,000, to create tests for Illinois NetMath, a Web-based, distance learning mathematics program for Illinois high schools.
--Kenneth Travers, curriculum and instruction, $15,000, to develop five Web-based curriculum modules in high school mathematics and produce corresponding continuing professional development materials for the teachers who will use the modules.
--Lynn Marie Carlton, nursing, $12,000, to develop and implement a health and nutrition curriculum for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
--William Gingold, psychology, $12,000, to provide up-to-date information about geriatric care, social issues and clinical practice affecting the well-being of older adults, their families and caregivers.
--Renee T. Clift, Council on Teacher Education, curriculum and instruction, $10,200, to plan and establish a partnership for the professional development of educators among the colleges represented by the Council on Teacher Education, the districts served by the Champaign/Ford Regional Office of Education (ROE), the districts served by the Vermilion County ROE, and the Office of Continuing Education and Public Service.
--Robert Rich, political science and IGPA, in collaboration with the Illinois Municipal League, $15,000, to develop a curriculum that will be offered to elected officials in Illinois over a two-year period, help develop an information and communications infrastructure for local officials, and provide technical assistance to municipalities on problems that face several localities.
--Steven Skerlos, Richard DeVor, Shiv Kapoor, mechanical and industrial engineering, and Timothy Lindsey, pollution prevention program, $10,000, to assist with the development of a prototype ultrafiltration system, which will serve as a viable reuse technology for environmentally conscious machining.
--Brian Orland, landscape architecture, $15,000, to design and teach a basic state and local government course for 50 representatives of East St. Louis, Ill., community organizations.
--Julian Rappaport, Thomas Moore, psychology, $15,000, to facilitate local resident and university collaboration to establish a Parent/Child/Family Center in a low-income neighborhood of Champaign.
--Jim Brademas, leisure studies, $9,000, to form a consortium of eight universities in Illinois with recreation curricula. Each university would agree to conduct the Illinois Rural Recreation Development Project in their respective geographical areas.
--Jim Painter, food science and human nutrition, and Jim Misner, kinesiology, $15,000, to develop an interactive, Web-based nutrition education program for use at local high schools. The pilot program will target athletes who are at risk of developing anorexia or bulimia.