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Building Strong Communities

  This page honors  collaborative service, learning and advocacy that build strong communities in East Tennessee and Appapachia.




Join with us, as we bring together people and ideas to build healthy, just and caring communities in East Tennessee and Appalachia.        




Fall 2010 at-a-glance:

 For more information on partnerships and programs, call 865-273-8894.
SCHOOL FOR NONPROFITS workshops ~ September-May
NONPROFITS:  ASK AN EXPERT ~ October 20 (Blount Chamber)
CONFERENCE:  Trauma/Resilience in Women and Children ~ Oct. 11-12
SOCIAL MEDIA WORKSHOP ~ November 3 (United Way)
PHILANTHROPY DAY ~ November 18  (Airport Hilton)  


Mark your calendar for 2011!

Jan. 13:        MLK Community Forum / Poor People’s Campaign
Mar. 11:        Leadership Summit  (CSC & Leadership Blount)
Apr. 1-30:   Earth Matters Month in Blount County
April 9:        Earth Roundup at Maryville College

May 24:       Nonprofit Training and Enrichment Seminar
June 2:        East TN Regional Economic Summit for Women 





 Building healthy, just and caring communities in East TN and Appalachia  



Programs and events are intended to bring together people and ideas that will mobilize stronger civic engagement, community-building and collaborative efforts that improve the quality of life for the whole community.     

What issues do we address?  Although we are not driven by any one or two particular issues, much of our work in 2010 addresses three broad pairings of   study and action:   (1)  community development and social services, (2) quality growth and environmental stewardship, and (3) cultural inclusiveness and socioeconomic justice.              

 Community-based research continues each semester with projects that connect students and faculty with community partners for careful study on social concerns and community programs.  Recent research partnerships have included Habitat for Humanity, Blount County Soil Conservation District, New Hope Child Advocacy, Haven House, Keep Blount Beautiful, Wilderwood Service Dogs, and Bridges Refugee Services.             

 Community forums and conferences on public issues are held throughout the year, addressing health care and wellness, Latino civil rights, green infrastructure, women’s economic development, and a new look at MLK’s poor people’s campaign.                    

 News articles:   To view news articles from this year and previous years,  click here .  Please continue to check our pages for announcements and updates.       



Just Connections


The Center for Strong Communities is pleased to announce a new grant from Appalachian Community Fund to support JUST CONNECTIONS in developing academy-community partnerships for social justice in Appalachia.  

See more information about Just Connections at

Upcoming meetings for developing college/community partnerships in research and community impact are listed below. 

Just Connections 2010 Annual Meeting

August 6-7 at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN
Hosted by Center for Civic Advancement and George Clem Multicultural Association

Vision in Action w/GEAR
November 2010 (TBD) in Rome, GA
Hosted by Grassroots Empowerment Alliance of Rome

Vision in Action w/ CELTS at Berea College
February 2011 (TBD) in Berea, KY
Hosted by CELTS /Center for Excellence in Learning and Service

Appalachian Studies Conference
March 2011 (TBD)

Vision in Action / Partnership Conference
June 2011 (TBD) in Maryville, TN
Hosted by the Center for Strong Communities

6/3/10 Economic Summit for Women Photos

Deborah Boling and Mary Amber Dunn

Lori Tucker, WATE-TV Channel 6 News Anchor

Pam Fansler, First Tennessee Bank President

5/25/10 Nonprofit Training and Enrichment Seminar

On May 25, 2010 the Center for Strong Communities at Maryville College, Blount Chamber Foundation, and United Way of Blount County organized the Nonprofit Community Collaboration’s seminar that attracted 85 representatives from 55 different nonprofit and faith-based organizations.  Kevin Painter of LeConte Wealth Management was the morning speaker and Bishop James E. Swanson with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church was the keynote luncheon speaker.  In addition, concurrent workshops were held throughout the day with guest speakers, Betsy Cunningham, Cynthia Moxley, Raeus Cannon, Jim Rose, and Trudy Hughes. 

Raeus Cannon led a workshop on "Networking and Cultivating Relationships".

Betsy Cunningham led a workshop on "Staff Policies for Nonprofits".

Jim Rose presented two workshops, "Organizing Yourself" and "Managing Change".

Cynthia Moxley answers questions during her workshop entitled "Cause-based Marketing".

Trudy Hughes was the workshop leader for "The Fundraisers' Roundtable".

Bishop James E. Swanson

Dr. Billy Newton and Michelle Hankes

“Not only was the attendance for the seminar at one of its highest, I also heard from many of the participants that it offered some of the best and most useful workshops in its four year history,” Michelle Hankes of the United Way.

4/24/10 Earth Round-Up

Earth Round-Up was held on the beautiful Maryville College Campus this year on April 24, 2010.  Because of rain, the event was moved indoors to the Cooper Athletic Center.  The event drew the largest crowd yet despite the rain.  Proud Sponsors of the annual event are:  Maryville College, The Center for Strong Communities at Maryville College, Blount County Chamber Foundation, Keep Blount Beautiful, and Little River Watershed Association.

Several Maryville College Students helped at the event.

Jen Morgan presents winner Samuel Brock his free Dollywood Tickets

4/24/10 Earth Round-Up

MLK forum on Latino civil rights – Jan. 14

Latino Civil Rights, Obstacles and Opportunities

with New Neighbors in the South

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Maryville College / Alumni Gym

6:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Keynote Speaker:  Our keynote speaker is Renata Soto, founder/director of Conexion Americas in Nashville, TN and board member of National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights organization in the country.  Both organizations work to protect civil rights and promote opportunities for Latinos in the United States, while building bridges between Latinos and native-born U.S. Americans.   Click here  to read more about our speaker, Renata Soto.

Call to Action:   In the tradition of Dr. King’s persistent call to action, we will meet with regional organizations to discuss needs and resources for service and bridge-building in our own communities.

This program is free and open to the public.

Other participating organizations:   Centro Hispano, Catholic Hispanic Ministry Office (Knoxville Diocese), Legal Aid of East TN, CEDnet & Latino Task Force, Puentes Community Resources, Race Relations Center of East TN, United Methodist Church Hispanic Ministry (Knoxville & Maryville Districts)

For more information, contact Billy Newton at 865-273-8894,  The CSC presents this program in collaboration with the Blount County MLK Holiday Celebration week.  See the full schedule of activities:  MLK community programs 2010.

Renata Soto, keynote speaker for Jan. 14, 2010


MLK community forum 2009


Workshops on Community-based Research

 Community-based Research (CBR) and Service Learning:

On November 6-7, teams from five colleges and five community organizations gathered with the Center for Strong Communities at Maryville College to study academy-community partnerships and research that effectively advance community development. 
Two workshops were led by Dr. Randy Stoecker, Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, with a joint appointment in the Center for Community and Economic Development

Session One:   Friday afternoon, Nov. 6 at 3:30-5:30
In sessin one, Stoecker presented an overview of how service-learning and community research have developed in higher education over the last 20 years.   Whereas, it is clear that service-learning has a tremendous student impact,  it remains questionable how it impacts the community.  The group discussed how an intentional model of community development driven by community outcomes would change the way organizations and colleges approach partnerships projects. 

Session Two:
  Saturday morning, Nov. 7
Breakfast at 9am.  Workshop at 9:30-12:30.
Session two was a hand-on workshop for academy-community teams to design potential partnerships in community develop.  Teams shaped plans for ways that stduents, faculty qnd institutions can follow the lead of nonprofits and grassroots organizers to idenitfy research and development needs, while drawing on multiple college resources to advance community problem solving. 

Coming from four states, participating colleges and community organizations were Maryville College, New Hope Blount County Child Advocacy Center, Community Economic Development Network, Tusculum College, Warren Wilson College, Clearkfork Learning Institute, Woodland Community Land Trust, Big Creek People in Action, Auburn University, Carson-Newman College, Emory & Henry College, and Just Connections.

Many thanks —once again— to the Bonner Foundation of Princeton, NJ for funding these workshops and for continued support of the Center for Strong Communities at Maryville College.

More information on publications by Randy Stoecker:

The Unheard Voices: Community Organizations and Service Learning by Randy Stoecker and Elizabeth A. Tryon, 2009

Research Methods for Community Change: A Project-Based Approach by Dr. Randy R. Stoecker , 2005

Community-Based Research and Higher Education: Principles and Practices (Jossey Bass), 2003



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