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Welcome to the website of the Urban Initiative, an effort that aims to strengthen our nearby cities by conducting research, building the capacity of our community partners, and facilitating an informed conversation about urban policy. Here you can learn about what we do and why we do it, how UMass Dartmouth students are and can become involved in our work, read reports we've issued, get in touch, and stay updated on our work at the university and in the community. Our most dynamic content can be found on our blog and in our newsletter, so be sure to subscribe to both!
The Urban Initiative's mission is to address challenges and opportunities in the region’s smaller industrial cities, with a particular emphasis on strengthening our nearby communities like Fall River and New Bedford. In addition to conducting applied research, evaluating programs and policies, facilitating collaborations, and providing technical assistance to cities and organizations therein, the Urban Initiative serves as a knowledge base for urban policy issues and their applications in the region.
Scope of Services
The Urban Initiative works with a diverse array of stakeholders to address their needs for information and support. Past and prospective partners include municipalities, school districts, state and local public agencies, nonprofits, private organizations, coalitions and associations, and citizen groups. The Urban Initiative's activities include:
Conducting applied research, determining how urban policy plays out in real scenarios or settings;
Evaluating programs and policies to determine the impact they have on target audiences;
Fostering partnerships and collaborations across sectors and disciplines to encourage coordinated, strengths-based problem solving;
Making information, news, and data related to urban policy more accessible and useful to stakeholders in the region;
Providing a range of technical assistance to enhance the capacity of local stakeholders;
Convening events and workshops to disseminate skills and information to members of the community; and
Connecting the UMass Dartmouth community to cities like Fall River and New Bedford by engaging students and faculty in research and technical assistance opportunities.
Our Impact, In Their Own Words...
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
"Through the great work of the Urban Initiative, strong state and local partnerships have been made to help us support Gateway Cities – the anchors of our regional economies. The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to working with the Urban Initiative to ensure we are providing tools that will help revitalize communities across the Commonwealth."
Dr. Jay Smink
Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center
"Given the Urban Initiative’s location in a region anchored by two major urban cities and its mission to address the role of dropout prevention in the urban education context, it became easily apparent that an affiliation with the Urban Initiative would appropriately extend the scope of our national dropout prevention efforts. It is a pleasure to be partnering with the Urban Initiative. Their experience, participation, and contributions have been invaluable and we look forward to continued collaborative efforts."
Scott W. Lang
Mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts
"UMass-Dartmouth's Urban Initiative has revitalized the conversation regarding the rebirth of mid-sized cities as an important component of the social & economic fabric of our state in the 21st century. They have taken on tough issues without bias and have worked to find solutions that will lead us into the future."
Stephen R. Canessa
Massachusetts State Representative
"Dropout Prevention is an increasingly significant issue. The Urban Initiative at UMass Dartmouth understands the importance of keeping our kids in school, so they can learn the necessary skills to achieve success and give back to our communities. In their role as the first regional satellite of the National Dropout Prevention Center Network, the Urban Initiative's innovative work with the school districts in our area will help inform and shape the debate on effective dropout prevention strategies occurring on the national level."
Executive Director, Office of Economic & Community Development, Taunton, Massachusetts
"In our efforts to revitalize Taunton’s central business district, the independent and in-depth research and analysis provided by the Urban Initiative in its study of challenges and opportunities in our downtown has proved to be an invaluable tool. Using a variety of research methods, their staff has provided city officials with important data and insightful recommendations that can serve as a starting point for significant progress. Their work is both thoughtful and thought-provoking."