We hope that you are taking good care of yourself during these challenging times. We wanted to let you know that due to our continued commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of our community members and students, we have made the decision to continue to support virtual and non-contact community engagement starting Spring semester and until further notice. We truly look forward to the minute that we are able to support direct, in-person engagement safely, and you’ll be the first to know when that is again safe and possible again.
At this time, we feel it is important to provide an update on how we have shifted how we do what we do to live out our mission this past semester. We feel that it is important to start by acknowledging that we are all in the midst of two pandemics which have impacted all of us directly and indirectly in ways that we could not have imagined even last February. We also want to share that we are continually overwhelmed and humbled by how our partners in the community have innovated to meet the urgent and changing needs of community members. Here is a summary of the high-level shifts that we have made to our programming and practice.
How we have prioritized community and the safety of all during COVID-19 pandemic:
We have centered community by waiting to reach out until summer through the “Community Conversations” project, which consisted of one-on-one conversations with community partners exploring approaches and opportunities for collaboration with the Morgridge Center and UW. We solicited opportunities both from community and campus to assist in matching resources from campus with community engagement opportunities
We are working with the Office of Business Engagement and University Relations to adopt a Customer Relations Management platform called Salesforce that will create a sustainable and comprehensive method to serve as matchmakers with community and university partners
How our programming and services have adapted:
The Badger Volunteers program shifted from team-based community-engagement to individual, virtual engagement and matched over 150 UW volunteers as tutors and mentors
Supported faculty members who had been teaching their courses using a Community- Based Learning approach by finding virtual engagement opportunities and compensating community experts to serve as guest lecturers
The Morgridge Center has joined Dane County Administrators of Volunteer Services in co-hosting a Community of Learning meeting series for volunteer services professionals
Examples of how we have responded to the pandemic of systemic racism:
- The Morgridge Center is prioritizing work to dismantle white supremacy culture and become an organization that strives to better exemplify its racial and social justice values by:
Shifting the focus of our two-day summer planning retreat from strategic planning to elevating our internal racial justice work
Creating monthly Equity and Advocacy meetings where space is held to grow our skills and critically assess our programs, services, processes, and engage in individual self-reflection
Shifting our meeting structures to prioritize health and wellness
- Along with graduate project assistant, CC Vang, Dr.Ward is conducting a research project to learn more about how our underrepresented students are involved in civic engagement with community. This project seeks to understand the needs of underrepresented students, to inform and guide our programming and help ensure that all students are able to become civically engaged.
Supporting Student Activism
As a center for public service, we see it as necessary and critical to support all our students, especially students of color and students with marginalized identities, who routinely face discrimination and oppression. We want to provide students space at the Morgridge Center to feel heard, to have their experiences validated, and to access resources to support and to help navigate those experiences. We’ve written a statement that we feel articulates our values and commitment to our students, and think that it’s important to share with you:
The Morgridge Center for Public Service supports nonviolent student activism as one of many ways to engage in democracy. We denounce white supremacy, stand in opposition to violence against anyone engaged in nonviolent peaceful protest and reject all acts of violence and threats against any member of our community. Such actions have no place on campus or in the Madison community.
As we continue to respond to these unprecedented times, please know that we appreciate we your feedback and continued collaboration. Please stay in touch.