Community-Academic Scholars: Student Scholars

Become a Community-Academic Scholar

  1. Develop applied research skills for measuring and maximizing impact
  2. Build cultural and civic skills while becoming a more informed citizen
  3. Strengthen teamwork/collaboration skills by working with both campus and community partners
  4. Sharpen professional communication skills by developing a plan for updating faculty and community mentors on weekly progress
  5. Witness firsthand how your work makes a difference in the local community 

View the Summer 2024 Community Projects

Eligibility and preference
  • Applicants must be undergraduate students in good standing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (students graduating in spring or summer 2024 are not eligible to apply).
  • Preference is given to minoritized students and to those whose background reflects the communities a project serves.
Program requirements
  • Applicants are expected to fulfill the specified hourly requirements of their projects over the summer for 10 weeks.
  • Scholars must create a communication plan for updating their faculty and community mentors on weekly progress.
  • Scholars must create and present a poster with their summer work at the final awards ceremony in August 2024.
  • Scholars are expected to attend a program orientation and weekly coffee hours during the summer. 
Scholar stipend
  • Scholars will receive a $4,000 stipend to offset the cost of housing and/or other living expenses during the program. This stipend will be disbursed in three payments throughout the summer program. 
Selecting a project
  • Projects will address health or social justice in the community. View the Summer 2024 Projects.
  • Scholar 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.
Application process

The application period for the Community-Academic Scholars summer program typically opens mid-January. Sign up to receive updates about info sessions, project announcements, and more. 


Contact with any questions about the program. 

Kaiya Bernard
Kaiya Bernard
2022 Scholar

“The most meaningful part of this experience has been the ability to interact with the community members. The University can feel like a bubble, and you miss out on so many connections with such a lively and culture-rich community just five minutes away. It makes it even more important to me because these communities are underrepresented, just as I was while growing up, and I was able to make so many connections with people who looked like me and had the same stories as me growing up.”

Student Scholars FAQs

  • The Community-Academic Scholars Program is intended to be an in-person program.
  • If warranted, adjustments to the program may be made as they were in 2020 and 2021 for health and safety reasons.

  • Each project will have different requirements; however, we would like this to be a major part of your summer.
  • Expectations about hours will be posted along with the projects so that students can plan accordingly.

  • It is not currently possible to get academic credit through the program for work conducted during the summer.
  • Some scholars have had the opportunity to work with their mentors beyond the summer program for academic credit. 

You do not need to have any specific kind of experience. The important thing is to communicate your passion for and connection with research topic when you are writing your statement of interest for each project you choose.

  • Scholar applicants will select and rank their preferences for existing community-academic research projects when completing their application.
  • Selected scholars are then matched to the project that best aligns with their strengths and interests.

  • Housing is not provided.
  • The $4,000 stipend can help cover housing expenses.
  • If you have questions or would like to be connected with resources, please contact Brandi Barnes

  • The number of scholars accepted into the program varies slightly each year.
  • We expect approximately 15 scholars to be accepted into the program.

  • Finalists will be invited to interview in mid-late February.
  • All applicants will be notified of their acceptance status by early March. 

  • Applicants are welcome to apply for projects in their major or outside their major.
  • Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate on their application how and why the projects fit with their interests and strengths, regardless of their major.

Yes. Students from all majors, including undecided, are encouraged to apply. 

  • It is most common to be the only community-academic scholar on the research team, though some projects may accept two scholars.
  • Scholars may work on a team with other undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers.

  • Scholars will work with their academic mentors and the Community-Academic Scholars program team to develop a poster and short 2-minute presentation to share their research project with the community.
  • Don’t worry if you have never done a research poster presentation before! We will provide a basic template and work with you to develop your poster.