At its core, Vibrant Virginia aims to:
  • Grow a network of researchers and development practitioners interested in regions across Virginia;
  • Enhance university projects and initiatives related to Virginia and urban-rural regional concerns;
  • Strengthen the long-term vibrancy of Virginia through applied research, policy analysis, and engagement projects.

Through this, Vibrant Virginia funded four projects last year to allow faculty, staff, and graduate students to dive deeper and look into new research projects that align with the Vibrant Virginia goals. As these four projects wrap up their research they examined lessons learned along the way.

Community Change Collaborative (CCC) of VT-IPG

CCC is a graduate student led group interested in the theory and praxis of community change. Through their project they worked in Stuart and Patrick counties and Pennington Gap, VA to facilitate community-based research and development to learn what the community wanted to see as an approach to development. CCC members were reminded:

  • Projects ebb and flow and they need to be flexible in their metrics to measure successful community engagement;
  • External partners and collaborators have different ideas and opinions and openness is key;
  • The balance between CCC meetings, project preparation, travel, delivery, and evaluation versus student workload on the quality of projects is important to consider;
  • and timing and funding will always be a challenge in engagement.
Connecting Schools and Businesses/Promoting Workforce Development through Teacher Internships

The Center for Research in SEAD Education seeks to identify and engage viable internship sites by building relationships between teachers, business leaders, and students to give students an opportunity to see what careers are available in their communities. Researchers found the United Way of Southwest Virginia/IGNITE program conducts similar work and therefore partnered together.

One of the goals of Vibrant Virginia is to find ways organizations working in similar fields can combine resources to better serve the community. Through working together, the Center for Research in SEAD Education and the United Way can impact a broader network of teachers and educate more students.

Supporting Healthy Families and Communities: Collaborative Strategies to Reduce SUD in Roanoke City and Pulaski County

VT Center for Public Health Practice and Research and the Institute for Policy and Governance are working together to build upon the strengths of community coalitions by providing informed guidance through data collection and analysis in order to establish a “blueprint to address the opioid crisis” specific to a community assets, resources, and needs. Researchers learned it takes time and trust within the community to build collaboration. However, research can support community needs by: facilitating discussions, translating needs into data informed action items, providing insight into evidence based practices, and evaluating process and providing guidance for more effective use of funds/resources.