Among those early projects, the Owen County Community Foundation connected with START for assistance converting to virtual meetings when public health officials advised against meeting in person. The foundation was paired with a graduate student from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering who is offering advice on manageable upgrades to help the group safely reconnect the group with its constituents and partners.

The student listened to us and came back with a plan to fit our budget and our needs. This was one of the easiest intern processes that I have experienced.

Maria O’Connor, Owen County Community Foundation

“The needs in our community are great, and COVID has impacted not only how we work, but has increased our workload,” said Owen County Community Foundation administrative director Maria O’Connor. “At the request of our board chair, we teamed up with START, allowing us to keep doing our good work providing grants to the community, while our assigned student took the burden of researching technology upgrades off of our plate. The student listened to us and came back with a plan to fit our budget and our needs. This was one of the easiest intern processes that I have experienced.”

While many of the incoming project ideas focus on emergent needs brought on by the pandemic, program leaders anticipate that the connections made through START projects will flourish beyond the current crisis.

"We're looking forward to long-term partnerships and being a really good neighbor in our region," said Cassi Winslow-Edmonson, IU Corps director.

The START advisory committee reviews project requests during the first week of each month. Organizations can view START skills and submit project requests at https://iucorps.indiana.edu/partners/cart.html.

View START skills and submit a project request

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The IU Center for Rural Engagement improves the lives of Hoosiers through collaborative initiatives that discover and deploy scalable and flexible solutions to common challenges facing rural communities. Working in full-spectrum community innovation through research, community-engaged teaching and student service, the center builds vision, harnesses assets and cultivates sustainable leadership structures within the communities with which it engages to ensure long-term success.