2018-2019 Impact Report

We partner with rural communities to improve Hoosier lives.

The Center for Rural Engagement at Indiana University Bloomington brings together people, research, cultural assets, and expertise to improve quality of life and address challenges in areas such as:

  • Health

  • Arts and culture

  • Education

  • Housing

  • Environment and resilience

  • Business and innovation

  • Leadership and development

Together with our partners, we have become a national model for how universities can support the needs and futures of rural residents and communities.

2018-19 impact

Engaged5,500+ residents in 39 Indiana communities and 27 counties

Launched135 projects, including 67 community resilience projects, 52 health projects, and 16 arts and quality of place projects

Involved4,500+ IU students, 150+ faculty members, and all 16 IU Bloomington schools

Opioid addiction has devastated rural communities. Together we're fighting back.

To battle the opioid epidemic in Lawrence County, John Keesler—a professor in the IU School of Social Work and a resident of the county—collaborated with Sheriff Mike Branham. Keesler’s work later expanded to support a federal grant project that informed rural opioid planning across all of Indiana.

Read more about this partnership to address substance use disorder

Together we're working to ensure justice for all, while supporting judges and preparing law students.

The IU Maurer School of Law was the first law school in the nation to establish an access-to-justice service learning program.

Its many initiatives include a partnership with Indiana Legal Services that provides free legal services to people filing for expungement of nonviolent offenses. The result: people in recovery get back on track in their lives and careers, employers gain qualified workers, and students grow by serving people in need.

You gave them new dreams to dream.

Bonnie Harmon, Band Director, Salem Community Schools

Together we're helping the arts thrive in rural communities.

The Rural Arts Series has deeply connected with three communities—Huntingburg, Nashville, and Salem—through creative writing workshops, theatrical performances, IU Cinema film screenings, artist residencies, traditional and contemporary art exhibits, and master classes and performances with the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Read more about an arts collaboration with Salem, Ind.

Graphic rendering of a rural modest home design

Together we're helping workers and people of all incomes find good, affordable places to live.

The Center for Rural Engagement formed a regional coalition to create a housing plan for Greene, Lawrence, Monroe, Orange, and Owen counties, with a focus on generating housing units for various income levels.

In Orange County, the IU Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design created a plan for a modest home that can be built on vacant or blighted lots—expanding low-cost housing for the workforce and supporting aging in place.

Learn more about the modest home design project

Together we're using data to make healthier communities.

Professor Priscilla Barnes of the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and her team of graduate students helped Daviess, Lawrence, Martin, and Orange counties develop Community Health Improvement Plans (CHIPs) using data from local health assessments.

The CHIPs will help these communities set SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—to meet a range of health objectives, from addressing gaps in services to preventing and treating chronic conditions.

Together we're bringing tailored care to people with diabetes.

For more than four decades, Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) has provided high-quality, community-based health care to local families. Now SICHC, the Center for Rural Engagement, and the IU School of Nursing Bloomington have teamed up to conduct home visits for patients with diabetes.

Watch a video about the rural nursing initiative

Two faculty members and two students gathered together to analyze water samples

Together we're championing safe water and robust recreation.

The Center for Rural Engagement and IU’s Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands completed a Park, Recreation, and Protected Land Inventory and Opportunity Map. The report lists all parks, recreation activities, trails, waterways, and public lands in the Indiana Uplands region. The center also launched a karst aquifer study with Indiana Geological and Water Survey focused on water resilience.