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Vol. 10 No. 2

Some Unexpected Ways Universities can Prime the Community Economic Engine: Asset Building for the Working Poor and the University Back Office

November 10, 2010


This article demonstrates how the university back office
can enable ambitious implementation partnerships between
institutions of higher education and community-based organizations.
It examines the Individual Development Account
Collaborative of Louisiana, a $4 million asset-building program
operated by the National Center for the Urban Community at
Tulane and Xavier Universities, which produced more than six
hundred graduates in less than two years, most of them firsttime
home owners. The bookkeeping and administrative requirements
imposed by governmental granting agencies often tax the
capacity of even the largest nonprofits, which lack the sponsored
research infrastructure that the Cold War university has
developed in consequence of processing hundreds of grants and
contracts annually. Small nonprofits are best at delivering services
to local communities; Research-1 universities are practiced
at managing large grants and contracts. The article concludes
that the administrative side of such university-community partnerships
deserves as much attention as their programmatic side.