Community-Academic Scholars: Academic Mentors

Participate in the 2022 Community-Academic Scholars Program

2022 Community-Academic Scholars Faculty Info Session

Learn more about how the Community-Academic Scholars Initiative may be able to support your community-based research project. During the 10-week summer program, Community-Academic Scholars work with academic and community mentors to complete a research project that addresses health, poverty, or social inequity. The Community-Academic Scholars Initiative supports the undergraduates with training, weekly meetings, and a stipend to offset the cost of housing and/or other living expenses during the program. A limited number of eligible projects will be matched with an undergrad scholar whose interests, experience, and abilities best fit the project. This info session covered program benefits, project selection, and reflections from past participants.

Eligible projects

  • Involve an established collaboration with a community organization in Champaign County. Community organizations must be non-profits or NGOs, and may include health agencies, summer programs for children, schools, organizations serving special populations, etc.
  • Involve equal partnership between the researcher and community stakeholder in the design and implementation of the research project. 
  • Address an existing need within the community related to health, poverty, or social inequality.
  • Investigate a specific research question (projects that include only a service component without accompanying research are not eligible).
  • Guarantee a position for a summer undergraduate research assistant.

Preference will be given to projects that allow undergraduate scholars to directly interact (in-person or virtually) with individuals served by the community partner.

View the 2021 projects  View the 2022 projects  Apply now

Matching scholars with projects

  • Researchers interested in having a scholar on their team will complete a form with a description of the project and how it will involve the scholar and community partner.
  • Student applicants will have an opportunity to learn about and rank projects of interest when completing the application.
  • The Community-Academic Scholars team will match each chosen scholar to the project that most aligns with their strengths and interests.

Learn about program requirements for scholars

Academic Mentor FAQs

The project submission portal will open on November 1, 2021 and close at 11:59 p.m. CST on January 9, 2022. Apply now.

Project submissions will be evaluated on multiple criteria, including: 

  1. Community Impact (Does the proposed project benefit the community with whom it is being conducted?
  2. Geographic proximity to Champaign-Urbana
  3. Strength of community-academic collaboration (Does this project represent a positive and reciprocal collaboration between academic and community partners?)
  4. Nature of the student research experience (Will the student engage with the community partner on the project, either virtually or in-person?)
  5. Realistic expectations for the summer scholar (Is the role of the student appropriate for a 10-week summer undergraduate research experience?)

Community organizations must be non-profits or NGOs, and may include health agencies, summer programs for children, schools or school districts, park districts, and other organizations serving special populations.

Multiple project submissions are allowed at this time, provided they have distinct community partners.

  • Once your project has been accepted, you will be notified and then contacted by a member of the CAS program team who will serve as your point of contact leading up to and during the summer program.
  • You CAS program team contact will stay in touch throughout the scholar matching process and will set up an initial meeting between each team (academic mentor, community mentor, and scholar) to touch base about the status of the project prior to the May program start date.

Scholar applications open in late January after all academic mentors have been notified of their acceptance status. Application review will take place in February, with the goal of finalizing scholar project matching by early March.

  • There will be space on the project submission form to include the name of a student whom you would recommend to work on your project.
  • This does not guarantee that student's acceptance into the program and they will still need to apply to the program when the scholar application portal opens.

Kevin TanKate Wegmann“The best learning occurs when it is experiential, and this is the value that we see in such community-academic partnerships. Such practice experience makes us better educators and researchers as we are more relevant to the needs in our community. Ultimately, we want to be doing research work that can be applied to promote the overall well-being of young people, their families, and their communities.”

Kevin Tan & Kate Wegmann
2020 Academic Mentors