University partners with HUD Higher Education Network


By Erin Garrett

University of Mississippi

Laura Martin, associate director of the Grisham-McLean Institute, has been named to a national think tank dedicated to building relationships between the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and higher education. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Laura Martin, associate director of the Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi and director of M Partner, has been named to a national think tank dedicated to building relationships between higher education and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. .

“This is an exciting outgrowth of the work the Grisham-McLean Institute has done on housing and community engagement,” Martin said. “The institute has had local partnerships for many years with our VISTA project in northern Mississippi and our CEED initiative in the delta.

“This new collaboration gives us more opportunities to fulfill our obligation to the community where we are located. The housing component requires us to look at our immediate community to see how we can be a partner and meet the challenges.

The HUD+ Higher Ed Education Network is led by Campus Compact in conjunction with the Anchor Institutions Task Force, the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, and the University Economic Development Association. The network will focus on strengthening connections and collaborations between institutions of higher education and HUD’s 64 field offices across the country.

Martin is the only Southeast representative among the 30 strategic leaders who make up the partnership’s think tank. Alongside his work at the Grisham-McLean Institute, Martin served for over three years on the board of Lafayette, Oxford and University Home Ownership Management Enterprise.

“I see this as an opportunity to merge the community engagement work I do on behalf of the university with my passion for affordable housing,” she said.

The network will collaborate with HUD experts and leaders to develop ideas and resources for campuses to engage with HUD field offices, and initiatives at the local network level will focus on issues such as empowerment health, maternal and child health, eviction prevention, landlord awareness, housing security and access, broadband access and digital literacy, and cultural competency.

“I regularly hear from community partners across northern Mississippi that housing access and affordability are areas of growing concern in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and with growing inflationary pressures,” said said Martin. “Reducing poverty is central to the mission of the Grisham-McLean Institute, and promoting housing security is central to this work.”

Martin said she looks forward to learning from national leaders in this field and representatives from other campuses.

“I think my role is to find ways to connect resources on campus to partnership opportunities in local communities,” she said. “Our involvement in this collaboration elevates this work to a national scale.

“I will be looking for ways to tap into national resources and role models that have been successful on other campuses and bring them here.”

Campus Compact is a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to advancing public goals for higher education. Castel Sweet, director of community engagement at UM, is in charge of strategy and vision for Campus Compact.

“As one of the largest and oldest associations dedicated to supporting civic and community engagement in higher education, Campus Compact provides benefits and resources for all aspects of campus,” said Sweet. . “The HUD initiative is just one example of the meaningful work that will result from our joining this association.”


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