NIU's 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 www.wnij.org or contact Staci Hoste, Director, Northern Public Radio at staci.h@niu.edu.

Community and Economic Engagement 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 Diana Robinson, Director of Center for Governmental Studies, drobinson@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.

Nonprofit 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.

Learn More

Contact Rena Cotsones, OERD Associate Vice President at rcotsones@niu.edu or Pam Clark Reidenbach, NICNE Executive Director at pclark1@niu.edu or visit the NICNE website

P20 Network

Audience

P-20 educators in the Northern Illinois region

Purpose

The Northern Illinois Regional P-20 Network is a large collective impact organization that collaborates to achieve the goal of 60 percent of residents holding a high quality degree or certificate by 2025.

Membership

Our 45 members from NIU, community colleges and school districts conduct research, pilot promising ideas, and implement actions designed to raise the level of educational attainment throughout the region.

Regional Impact

  • Addresses educational systems issues regionally.
  • Builds relationships vertically within the P-20 continuum and geographically across the region.
  • Influences and responds to state and federal policies.
  • Emphasize the importance of the entire P-20 educational continuum, especially critical transition points.
  • Move out of silos where we can and connect the silos that remain.
  • Focus on ensuring that the children of Illinois are getting the best education from birth to career.
  • Connect 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 has resulted in externally funded research and professional development projects for NIU faculty and staff.
  • NIU staff, faculty and administration are exposed to best practices across the region.
  • Collaboration with P-20 regional 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 Amy Jo Clemens, Director, Center for P-20 Engagement at ajclemens@niu.edu.

Contact Us

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