Kevin Tan offers practical advice for academic mentors interested in joining the Community-Academic Scholars program

10/25/2021 11:29:29 AM

"In my mind, this program is about preparing the next generation of students with cutting-edge research skills – who will be leaders in our community, addressing pressing social issues.”
- Kevin Tan, professor of social work

The Community-Academic Scholars Initiative invited Professor Kevin Tan, who has been involved with the initiative since its inception, to offer his insights and advice to faculty and staff interested in learning more about how to get involved with the program. 

Prof. Tan underscores the importance of applying to the program with an existing community partner, whether they are relatively recent or long-standing partners. For those who wish to build these relationships, he offers some practical advice:

  1. Provide guest speaking opportunities. If there is an agency that you’re interested in working with, invite them to your class and get to know them better.
  2. Develop service learning projects. These can be developed as part of a course and allow you to develop a deeper understanding of the community organization.
  3. Be present in the communities that we serve. Make connections by being involved in the Champaign-Urbana community.
  4. Offer expertise and support for the agency’s work. Apply for grants to support their work, or volunteer to serve as a consultant on grants.

Those faculty interested in the program may also receive assistance matching with a community partner to jointly develop a project by completing the project matching assistance form.

Prof. Tan also discusses how to develop projects with community partners, create meaningful opportunities for the community-academic scholars, enhance the community mentor/student partnership, and be a strong academic mentor.

“I enjoy this partnership with the community as we can jointly decide to focus on our work, define the issues involved, and work out solutions together. While 10 weeks is not enough for us to do in-depth work, I see this summer program as a catalyst for further partnerships,” said  Prof. Tan.

Additional resources, including FAQs, are also available on the academic mentor web page. The project submission period for Summer 2023 is Nov. 1, 2022 through Jan. 8, 2023.