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Community Partnerships

About Our Partnerships

One distinctive feature of our program is its partnerships. Our students and faculty do not just study the community; they work together with community members on community projects that provide direct community benefits. Collaboration is integral to what we do.

Our University is committed to using its full resources to strengthen the social and economic vitality of the entire region. Students will find this commitment evident in our work, and we encourage individuals who have that same type of community commitment to join our department as an undergraduate or graduate student.

Faculty Community Partnerships

 Doreen Arcus is interested in both disability and trauma in the social contexts childhood. Her disability research has examined the role of developmental transitions in children and youth, factors relating to over- or under-representation of students with disabilities in cities and towns across Massachusetts, and how educators develop an awareness of the needs of students with disabilities in their classrooms. Arcus has developed partnerships with a network of community health, educational, and child and youth welfare agencies that work in the area of trauma and child abuse. She has collaborated with these agencies on proposals to fund a university-based mentoring program for youth aging out of foster care. Arcus is currently engaged in a study of the experiences of children in families that provide foster care to other children in a preliminary test of her family systems theory of sibling reaction to child sexual abuse and links between subjective experiences of trauma and college student adjustment, with plans to investigate the role of cardiac reactivity and temperament, as well.

 Meg Bond is a community psychologist who focuses on the dynamics of ethnicity/race and gender in community and organizational settings. She is leading a "Healthy Organizational Diversity Project," which involves partnerships with community-based organizations that are interested in engaging in self-study around the challenges inherent in a developing diverse work force. Students have been very involved in these case studies, which probe the extent to which organizational practices genuinely promote inclusion of diverse workers and the relationship of the practices to mental and physical health. The University’s Center for Women and Work, directed by Bond, is involved in other types of community outreach activities that range from sponsoring annual forums on issues facing women at work, to collaborating with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and the YWCA to sponsor public hearings about wage inequity to working with the AAUW to highlight issues facing women immigrants in Lowell, to convening meetings of people interested in shaping public policies about carework in Massachusetts.

 Khanh Dinh is a clinical-community psychologist who is interested in the adjustment and well-being of immigrant individuals, families, and communities. Her research, teaching, and service work often involve the local immigrant and refugee communities. She collaborated with Lowell High School to conduct a research study on the academic experiences of Cambodian American high school students, showing the importance of biculturalism in the lives of these youth and their academic success. She is a supporter of the Angkor Dance Troupe, an after-school program with the main goal of teaching Cambodian American youth about traditional Khmer dance and culture. She invited the Angkor Dance Troupe to perform on the UMass Lowell campus, which further enhanced the existing connection between the University and the Cambodian immigrant community in Lowell. Her development of a graduate course on Immigrant Psychology and Communities also helps connect UMass Lowell graduate students to local immigrant communities. Dinh currently serves as a member of the board of directors of One Lowell, a nonprofit organization with the main mission of promoting immigrant rights, civic engagement, and sociocultural adjustment.

 Ashleigh Hillier is directing a social and vocational skills support group for adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum called "Aspirations." The group runs three times a year on the UMass Lowell campus, with between 6 and 8 participants in each group. There are also support groups for parents of those in the program. Hillier assesses the efficacy of the program by collecting data before and after program participation measuring self-esteem, empathy, stress, depression, and attitudes toward peer relationships. In addition, UMass Lowell students collect observational data during each group session. Hillier also leads other UMass Lowell campus-based interdisciplinary programs for those on the autism spectrum. These include the "SoundScape" music intervention with Gena Greher from the Department of Music, the "Fit and Fun" Physical Exercise and Relaxation program with Deirdra Murphy from the Department of Physical Therapy, "The Movie Club," and "The Network" monthly social and vocational program. These interventions also include a vital evaluation component that assesses the efficacy of the program models. UMass Lowell undergraduate and graduate students are involved in facilitating and evaluating the programs, which have received both internal and external funding. Beyond the formal structure of public school and state-funded programs, there are minimal opportunities and resources for young adults with autism spectrum disorders in the Lowell area. Therefore, these programs provide an essential service to those on the autism spectrum in our community and to their families, for whom few other services exist.

 Andrew Hostetler has initiated a collaborative project that represents a partnership between UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College. This project, Redefining Aging, Redefining Community, is exploring matches and mismatches between the anticipated post-retirement goals of baby boomers and existing community resources, with particular attention to race, class and gender dynamics. This project provides students with opportunities for research and service-learning experiences. He has also helped create University-Community Partnerships with several organizations in Lowell and the Greater Merrimack River Valley, including the Lowell Senior Center, Willow Manor Nursing Home, Allegiance Hospice, and Elder Services of Merrimack Valley.

 Charlotte Mandell and Richard Siegel have a long-standing relationship with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation. They have worked collaboratively to establish a specialization within our undergraduate curriculum that will raise the quality of the work force in human services and educate students about the nature of developmental disabilities. This project has helped to address critical work-force shortages in the areas of developmental disabilities and provided students the opportunity to experience the best practices in working with the developmentally disabled prior to joining that work force.

 Allyssa McCabe is leading a research project for preschool children aged two to five as part of the UMass Lowell–Bartlett School Community Partnership. University students are trained to engage children in the prerequisite of literacy, one-on-one conversations to extend the children’s vocabulary and draw attention to letters and sounds. The project goal is to collect pilot data as the basis for a significant federal grant, allowing expansion of the program to other schools in Lowell and the region. Judith Boccia, director of the Center for Field Services and Studies, is co-principal investigator on the project. Graduate students in the School of Education and Community Social Psychology train the undergraduate student researchers. This program has been supported by a grant from the Parker Foundation.

 Anne Mulvey’s areas of expertise, community psychology and women’s studies, are inherently interdisciplinary; each was created to foster alternative forms of scholarship, pedagogy and social change supportive of marginalized groups and communities. Her work is focused on the creation and implementation of educational, civic and cultural programs by and for diverse groups of women and girls. Mulvey’s overarching goal is to bridge theory and practice to provide equitable and positive alternatives to socio-cultural practices and systems that disparage, disadvantage and discourage on the basis of sex, gender and other interrelated aspects of identity. She has engaged in numerous long-term projects (e.g., The Lowell Growing Safer Project, Lowell Women’s Week, and The V-Day College Campaign) that span disciplinary boundaries and connect her research, teaching and service while directly supporting department, college and university missions and goals. One priority is developing culturally sensitive and multiculturally appropriate scholarship and practice that considers multiple aspects of diversity across individual, group and community levels. Her scholarship, teaching and community partnerships have also incorporated creative work and the arts.

 Sharon Wasco is an active collaborator with the staff at Lowell's local rape crisis center, Rape Crisis Services of Greater Lowell, and, together with this organization and a number of others, has convened a community coalition called “Greater Lowell Partners Against Sexual Assault (GL-PASA)”. GL-PASA is dedicated to increasing collaboration between individuals and organizations whose work includes issues of sexual violence. The mission of this alliance is to decrease the harm done by rape through coordinated community education, prevention, and service delivery efforts. Primary goals include to formalize working relationships among community organizations who provide care and services to those personally affected by rape and sexual assault, to connect those implementing various models of sexual assault prevention (e.g., education, law enforcement/prosecution, self-defense and offender rehabilitation programs), and to raise awareness about sexual assault (and services available in Lowell area) through developmentally and culturally appropriate community education and outreach.