A new partnership between Georgia College and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will bring together academia and federal agencies to advance economic development in central Georgia’s rural and small communities.
Georgia College signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the EPA to participate in the EPA College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP) and build a cooperative working relationship in areas of mutual interest.
The agreement focuses on the following areas: environmental justice, sustainability, energy, public policy, health disparities, environmental monitoring and remediation, socioeconomic issues, sustainable food systems and community development.
Also in an agreement to support school and communities in the CUPP program, the EPA signed an MOU with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 4 Office of Public Health and state directors from the U.S. Department of Agricultural, Rural Development (USDA RD) representing Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“Universities like GC are an incredible asset for communities, because of the skilled resources at their disposal,” said Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. “Partnering with HHS and USDA strengthens those skills and talents, and allows us to expand support through the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program to other communities in the southeast.”
The goal of CUPP is to benefit both the communities being served and the students involved in the program. Community partners receive resources and expertise of university students, faculty and staff. Students who participate in the program gain professional experience working with city officials, community organizations, environmental professionals and other stakeholders to solve challenges faced by rural communities.
“This is by definition a great community-based engaged learning opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Julia Metzker, director of ENGAGE, Georgia College’s Quality Enhancement Plan. “By entering into this agreement, our students will now have specialized opportunities for community-based research projects especially in the areas of science and public policy.”
Georgia College and the EPA will focus on the city of Eatonton initially through their partnership. Areas of interest include sewer issues and excessive water loss, storm water control, youth development and job creation.
“I am extremely excited about the possibilities that such a partnership presents,” said Eatonton Mayor John Reid. “The potential benefits for all involved, especially the students, can reap benefits beyond our imaginations. I look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”
Currently 13 schools in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida participate in CUPP, as well as 22 underserved cities and communities. The EPA Region 4 has 55 active MOU’s for this program.
ENGAGE Director and ADP Coordinator