IHSI’s Community-Academic Scholars Initiative empowers University of Illinois undergraduate students to pursue community-based research projects in Urbana-Champaign over the summer. Apply now!

Community-Academic Scholars InitiativeEngaging in community-focused research

Scholars from disciplines across campus work with a faculty mentor and a mentor from a community organization to address critical issues related to health, poverty, and/or social inequality. Each scholar will contribute to a research project designed to directly benefit community members served by the partner organization. This includes surveys, program evaluations, needs assessments, or any other project that interests the organization and a faculty member.

During the 10-week program, students develop applied research skills for measuring and maximizing impact in their work. Scholars come together each week for a coffee hour and facilitated discussion. Invited speakers provide practical guidance to the group, covering topics such as:

  • Careers in research
  • Conducting research in community settings
  • The value of team-based science
  • Presenting research to different audiences

Become a 2021 Community-Academic Scholar

Eligibility and preference

  • Applicants must be undergraduate students in good standing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (graduating seniors are not eligible to apply).
  • Preference is given to students from underrepresented backgrounds, and to those whose background reflects the communities their project serves. 

Program requirements

  • Applicants are expected to be engaged full-time in their projects over the summer for 10 weeks.
  • Students must create a communication plan for updating their faculty and community mentors on weekly progress.
  • Students must create and present a poster with their summer work at the final awards ceremony.
  • Students will attend a program orientation, a welcome event, and weekly coffee hours during the summer. A final awards ceremony will be held at the end of the summer to honor the scholars and their teams. 

Coverage for expenses

  • A $3,500 disbursement will be made to each successful applicant’s university account at the end of the spring semester.
  • The purpose of the disbursement is to offset the cost of housing and/or other living expenses during the program. 

Selecting a project

Please review the project details to select your top three choices. Project details include:

  • Faculty mentor
  • Community partner
  • Project descriptions
  • Scholar’s role in the project
  • Information about whether the project can be completed remotely 

Application Process

The application is now available. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2021. We will notify selected applicants of acceptance in early March. Please complete the following steps:

1. Review the project details to choose the top three projects you wish to be considered for.  

2. Write a brief statement (about a paragraph) for each of your top three projects. This statement should explain your interest in each project and how you believe your lived experience, coursework, and professional skills would enhance your contribution to each project. You will paste these responses into the application form. 

3. Create or update your curriculum vitae/resume. You will need to upload it as part of your application.

4. Complete the application. The application form will ask for your top three project choices and project statements, any additional projects that may interest you, your resume/CV, and your personal and student information. 

5. Depending on project interest, some applicants may need to meet with the faculty mentor before a final program selection is made. We are planning to schedule those meetings for the week of Feb. 21, if possible. Please check your email for this correspondence.

We highly recommend watching the recording of the information session that was held on Wednesday, Nov. 11. During the information session, we discussed the program and application process, shared a couple of past projects, and talked about how scholars will be matched with research projects. If you missed the information session, please watch the video and email Kelsey Hassevoort with any additional questions.