A new University of Georgia initiative will partner UGA faculty and students with communities throughout the state to develop customized plans that will better position the communities to successfully address future challenges.

The overarching goal of the program, called Connected Resilient Communities (CRC), is to enable communities to leverage university resources to create sustainable change that enhances the perception of Georgia communities and increases economic opportunity and well-being. The program will be facilitated by the Archway Partnership, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit.

Thomson-McDuffie County, Georgia, a current partner community of the Archway Partnership, is the CRC pilot community.

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead announced the program in his 2022 State of the University Address on Jan. 26.

“Through the Connected Resilient Communities program, the university will work hand in hand with communities to build and implement economic and community development plans that will help them identify future challenges as well as opportunities for growth and prosperity,” said Morehead. “I am pleased to announce its formal launch, beginning today.”

Four communities will be selected each year by a panel of university and state leaders in economic development to pursue the Connected Resilient Community designation. Those communities will build a customized resiliency plan featuring three projects from a scorecard of options. Categories include cybersecurity, education and workforce development, health and wellness, resilient infrastructure, and leadership, among others. Individual projects will draw on the expertise of UGA academic and outreach faculty.

The communities will be awarded medals at the completion of each project and will receive their official Connected Resilient Community designation at the UGA Public Service and Outreach Annual Awards Luncheon in April.

UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost S. Jack Hu said the CRC program would leverage the university’s expertise in creating resilient communities by making resources more visible and available.

“Through its land-grant mission, the University of Georgia has long partnered with communities across the state to take a proactive approach to improving quality of life while also addressing urgent challenges,” Hu said. “The Connected Resilient Communities program builds on this legacy for the benefit of our state.”

The CRC program allows the Archway Partnership to expand its reach beyond the eight active and six graduated communities it has served since it was launched as a pilot program in Colquitt County in 2005. Archway Partnership communities are assigned an Archway professional, a UGA faculty member who serves as a liaison between the community and the university to address local challenges identified by community residents.

Faculty from the Archway Partnership will also serve as liaisons between the CRC communities and UGA and will engage with the communities until they achieve the CRC designation, which is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

“We recognize that today, community leaders have access to sometimes overwhelming amounts of data to inform decision making,” said Michelle Elliott, Archway Partnership director. “Using its capabilities in data analytics, community engagement and technical assistance, UGA is ideally positioned to partner with communities preparing for economic development opportunities in the future.”

More information about the Connected Resilient Communities program, including community qualifications, applications and frequently asked questions, is available at archwaypartnership.uga.edu.

Writer: Kelly Simmons, 706-296-0855, simmonsk@uga.edu 

Contact: Michelle Elliott, 478-697-4522, mwe@uga.edu