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Featured D&D Story: University & Community Action for Racial Equity

Today we’re pleased to be featuring another example of dialogue and deliberation in action. This mini case study was submitted by NCDD member Dr. Frank Dukes of the University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation via NCDD’s new Dialogue Storytelling Tool. Do you have a dialogue story that our network could learn from? Add your dialogue story today!

ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project:

University & Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE)


The University and Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE) is dedicated to helping the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville area communities work together to understand the University’s history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination and to find ways to address and repair the legacy of those harms.

UCARE participants represent a broad cross-section of community members and University students, staff and faculty. Our efforts at working across sometimes polarized divides represent positive steps towards truth, understanding, repair and authentic relationship and promote real outcomes to achieve racial equity.
UCARE has had a transformative impact on the University and Central Virginia.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

  • Restorative Justice approaches

What was your role in the project?

Founder and project manager

What issues did the project primarily address?

  • Race and racism
  • Economic issues
  • Education
  • Planning and development

Lessons Learned

With persistent hard work of listening to concerns and problems, UCARE has transformed substantial elements of the University-community relationship. To list just a few of the key achievements, in the last few years UCARE has accomplished the following:

  • Published a major report documenting community concerns and offering substantial recommendations to encourage truth-seeking, understanding, repair, and relationship.
  • Been a major catalyst in the President’s Commission on Slavery at the University of Virginia. Thanks largely to the efforts of the UCARE steering committee member and three former UCARE interns who are on the Commission, their mandate includes determining remedies for contemporary issues of race and equity. This will include curricular changes, responses to community concerns, memorialization of the full history of the university, and more.
  • Triggered a review of the admissions procedures at the University of Virginia in order to promote increasing number of African-American students. UCARE convened a widely-publicized forum in 2013 pointing to a serious decline in undergraduate African-American enrollment, which then initiated a conversation with the Dean of Admissions.
  • Through a weekly newsletter with over 270 subscribers, built strong networks promoting racial justice and equity by highlighting projects and events in the community and at the University addressing issues of race and equity.
  • Engaged substantial numbers of students and faculty in assisting community organizations; for just two examples, connecting the Charlottesville Task Force on Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice System with university faculty, and providing intern support for beginning of the African American Heritage Center at the Jefferson School.
  • Transformed the language and focus of University leaders at all levels. For example, the student-run University Guides has a newly developed African American history tour, incorporates racialized history in all its tours (as the only group at UVa doing tours, U-Guides offers all of the visitor tours and all of the admissions tours), and has transformed itself from a nearly all-white organization to one that is now racially diverse.
  • Initiated a review of Central Virginia programs focused on youth, with particular attention to juvenile justice.
  • Working with leadership of the President’s Commission on Slavery at the University, developing a summer youth leadership program that will bring targeted young people to the University of Virginia. This program is currently the subject of a class project through the UCARE-sponsored class, “University of Virginia History: Race and Repair,” itself a pioneering class that includes community members as participants studying alongside students.
  • Created and maintained a weekly newsletter promoting events of interest concerning race and equity. This newsletter currently has about 270 subscribers from the university and community.
  • UCARE is now focusing on ways of institutionalizing its presence. One idea gaining support is to establish a center for community-university partnerships, based on the successful models of other universities, most notably the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. UCARE will be bringing a number of community and university members for a visit in May to explore the Netter Center model.

Where to learn more about the project:

Website is currently inactive although UCARE continues, but has legacy material and should be active again soon: ucareva.org. We also have a more active Facebook page and a highly active weekly news about issues of race and equity that goes out to close to 350 individuals.

NCDD Community
This post was submitted by a member of the NCDD community. NCDD members are leaders and future leaders in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and community problem solving. You, too, can post to the NCDD blog by completing the Add-to-Blog form at www.ncdd.org/submit.

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