NIU Public Engagement Networks

Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development coordinates five expanding and emerging networks. Each network’s structure is customized for the people and industries it serves, but its purpose is the same across each platform: These networks build on regional interests and need and existing areas of academic, research and engagement activity at NIU. Faculty and staff are convening to enhance communication, identify opportunities for collaboration, share evaluation strategies, develop university-wide rather than individual narratives, and jointly seek new funding sources.

Arts and Culture Network

Audience 

Arts and culture organizations across the region - their audiences, performers and performance venues, and related businesses

Purpose

Strengthen the region’s arts and cultural life by leading collaborative initiatives that expand audiences, develop and showcase talent, facilitate creation of high-quality content in all forms of media for diverse audiences, bolster existing institutions, and launch new enterprises.

Regional Impact

  • Lead communications, cooperation, collaboration, and evaluation of arts and culture activities organized or supported by this network.
  • Expand public knowledge and audience participation in arts and culture activities through content developed for print and digital platforms at local and regional levels.
  • Nurture and manage partnership relations to strengthen community initiatives focused on arts and culture.
  • Develop joint ventures to share operational expertise for activities such as performances, exhibitions and conferences, management, promotion, technology, and volunteer maximization.
  • Facilitate initiatives aimed at community revitalization and economic development associated with arts and culture.

University Impact

  • Enhance NIU’s reputation throughout the region as a hub for arts and cultural life.
  • Expand public access to NIU faculty, staff, student and alumni artistry and/or expertise.
  • Establish new and strengthen existing career pathways for the purpose of developing talent that addresses needs of employers and communities.
  • Promote and demonstrate “creativity, artistry and outreach” as part of the university mission and foster greater engagement in arts and culture activities between the university and non-university communities.

Contact Info

Visit Northern Public Radio website or contact Staci Hoste, Director, Northern Public Radio at staci.h@niu.edu.

Workforce Development Network

Audience 

Local governments, primarily municipalities, but also special taxing jurisdictions such as park districts and libraries.

Regional Impact

Members make policy and resource allocation decisions regarding basic community and economic development services to the residents of northern Illinois.

University Impact

Many have attended NIU and are proud alumni (particularly of the MPA program). They are also consumers of a variety of continuing education, research, planning, and facilitation services.

Learn More

Contact Greg Kuhn, Interim Director of NIU Center for Governmental Studies, gkuhn@niu.edu.

Esports Network

Audience

High school and community college educators, community organizations, researchers, technology professionals, students, and esports enthusiasts.

Membership

Our network is comprised of NIU faculty and graduate students. We plan to expand membership to high school educators and employers in the industry.

Regional Impact

  • Build relationships with high school esports coaches and community college clubs.
  • Disseminate knowledge and respond quickly to changes in esports.
  • Provide a collaborative platform to build an interdisciplinary esports academic program.
  • Create programs, conferences and events that attract students and professionals to NIU.
  • Create academic pathways from high school and community colleges to NIU around esports.
  • Partner with companies to enhance the esports program with new technology.

University Impact

  • Increase recruitment and retention rates due to esports academics and programs.
  • Increase community use of our Esports Cafés in our regional centers.
  • Bring revenue and recognition to NIU and our esports program by hosting academic esports conferences and workshops.
  • Be recognized as thought leaders in interdisciplinary esports academics.
  • Support cutting-edge esports research in any discipline.
  • Increase engaged learning opportunities for graduate students in esports support functions like nutrition, ergonomics, psychology, counseling and physical therapy.
  • Partner with local industry to bring esports-related internships and career opportunities to our students.

Learn More

Visit the NIU Esports website or contact Jeannine East, Esports Project Manager at jeast@niu.edu.

Nonprofits/NGOs Network

Audience

Regional nonprofit organizations

Purpose

Provide leadership for innovation and collaboration in the nonprofit/NGO sector, resulting in new partnerships and initiatives that encourage civic engagement, facilitate social change and advance new methods for nonprofit excellence and social entrepreneurship.

Regional Impact

  • NIU hosts conferences and events providing education, training and support for nonprofit organizations and partners.
  • Community partners collaborate with our network to create programs that benefit the Northern Illinois region.
  • Our communities of practice in a variety of nonprofit sectors are designed to increase knowledge of existing services; share knowledge of best practices, research and resources; expand existing networks and create new ones.
  • NICNE offers a non-profit job board to connect the region with non-profits, helping improve employment in the area.

University Impact

  • NIU faculty from the Department of Public Administration, Department of Sociology and College of Business and staff from the Center for Governmental Studies contribute their expertise to the nonprofit network.
  • The Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE), the region’s primary resource for nonprofit management and leadership development, is located at NIU Rockford since July 2018 and consistently connects nonprofit organizations to NIU.
  • Our network’s leadership is designing a Social Innovation Collaboration Lab (“CollabLab”) to be piloted by NICNE.
  • The Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies, created in 2010, offers undergraduate interdisciplinary degree programs in nonprofit and NGO studies, academic applied research opportunities, and outreach to the nonprofit community in Northern Illinois.

Learn More

Contact Pam Clark Reidenbach, NICNE Executive Director at pclark1@niu.edu or Alicia Schatteman, Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies Acting Director at aschatteman@niu.edu.

P20 Network

Audience

P-20 educators from birth through career across Illinois.

Purpose

The P-20 Network collaborates to improve educational attainment from cradle to careers through action in support of the Illinois P-20 Council’s “60 by 25” goal – an ambitious initiative to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high quality degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025

Membership

The Illinois P-20 Network comprises 118 state agencies, school districts, postsecondary institutions and other organizations invested in ensuring that all people in Illinois have access to and benefit from a strong education that leads to personal fulfillment, financial success and strong communities.

Areas of Focus

College and Career Readiness - Working across the P-20 continuum, the Illinois P-20 Network champions policies and practices that ensure that all students have success in both postsecondary education and in careers beyond that.

Equity and Opportunity - The foundation of all work undertaken by the Illinois P-20 Network is rooted in ensuring that all students and organizations have the resources, structures and strategies necessary to ensure high-level learning.

NIU P-20 Research and Data Collaborative - From early childhood through higher education and from small, rural school districts to statewide research, the P-20 Research & Data Collaborative offers the expertise and resources to advance learning for students, organizations, communities and policymakers.

Regional Impact

  • Leverages member strengths by networking across different educational communities and areas of expertise.
  • Builds relationships vertically within the P-20 educational continuum, from early childhood to higher education.
  • Influences and responds to state and federal policies.
  • Emphasizes the importance of the entire P-20 educational continuum, especially through critical transition points such as the transition from early childhood to elementary and secondary to postsecondary.
  • Focuses on ensuring that the children of Illinois are getting the best education from birth to career.
  • Connects education to workforce and economic development.

University Impact

  • NIU serves as the backbone institution of the network and is often credited by legislators, funders, agencies and others for the progressive vision and innovative spirit needed to create this educational collaboration.
  • Staffing action teams with NIU administrators means that NIU is a leader in current, critical educational policy and practice efforts for the region and the state.
  • Connecting with various NIU colleges results in cross-disciplinary relationships and efforts.
  • Relationships with state agencies have resulted in externally funded research and professional development projects for NIU faculty and staff.
  • NIU staff, faculty and administration are involved in relevant, state-prioritized policies and initiatives.
  • Collaboration with P-20 educational agencies has elevated NIU’s role in each of the phases along the P-20 continuum.

Learn More

Visit the P-20 Network website or contact Jason Klein, Director of P-20 Initiatives at jason.klein@niu.edu.

Contact Us

Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development
307 Lowden Hall
815-753-6486
oerd@niu.edu

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