Office of Community Engagement

About OCE

The SIU System Office of Community Engagement (OCE) harnesses university resources, faculty expertise, and student innovation to optimize community voices and to create transformative change through community-identified projects, addressing critical community issues and priorities and contributing to the public good.

Young people talking

Inclusive and accessible

Committed to ensuring equitable opportunities and access to resources, knowledge and expertise for all Southern Illinois communities. The SIU OCE will remove barriers to participation, ensure diverse populations and identities have access to programming and resources, and work to foster a sense of belonging and social connectedness for all.

Ethical and transparent

Acting with integrity and guided by a genuine commitment to the well-being of the community, the SIU OCE is focused on fostering trust and approaching program solving ethically and openly, acknowledging that our community partners should be accorded primacy in making decisions and be fully involved in shared ownership of projects, outcomes and physical and intellectual resources. 

Collaborative and participatory

Through a beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of genuine partnership and reciprocity, the SIU OCE is committed to serving the community through a mutually respectful partnership, rooted in dialogue and guided by a commonly agreed upon approach to solving evolving community issues. 

Criminal Justice

In Fall 2022, the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity was awarded a $10M cooperative agreement with the U.S. Dept. of Labor and Bureau of Prisons under the Partners for Opportunities in Workforce Development (PROWD) program. SIUE, in partnership with the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), which includes SIUC, was awarded $2M to support DCEO and statewide partners with grant administration and technical assistance in grant implementation with the goal of reducing recidivism rates, the SIU system and statewide partners from the IIN will support.

• Continued development of specific strategies for federal, minimum-security prisons, residential centers, and communities
• Implementation of a whole household approach to service delivery to support both returning residents and their families, emphasis on digital literacy and novel uses of technology, and the formation of regional, interdisciplinary teams across the state to support long-term goals, service coordination, and capacity building to ensure services are sustainable beyond the life of the grant
• Distribution of an additional $7M in funds by DCEO to support service delivery and training over the life of the grant.

Social Justice 

Broadband equity work that includes creation of a Community Technology Center at the Eurma C. Hayes Center (2022) and an assessment of broadband needs in the southwestern economic development region. 

SIU’s technology suite at Eurma Hayes Center provides free broadband, other benefits

Digital Indicator Dashboard for the Southwestern Region

person on laptop

Environmental Justice 

Faculty from Carbondale and Edwardsville received a 2022 IIN Seed Funding grant to integrate hydrology and social science approaches and research for community resiliency against flooding hazards in East St. Louis.

• Bhusal, A., Ghimire, A.B., Thakur, B. et al. Evaluating the hydrological performance of integrating PCSWMM and NEXRAD precipitation product at different spatial scales of watersheds. Model. Earth Syst. Environ. (2023). 

• Aryal, A., Bhusal, A., & Kalra, A. (2023). Evaluating Dry and Wet Season Precipitation from Remotely Sensed Data Using Artificial Neural Networks for Floodplain Mapping in an Ungauged Watershed. Environmental Protection Research, 3(1), 150–165.

Economic Access

Brooklyn, Madison, & Venice revitalization efforts funded in part by a 2021 IIN Seed Funding grant.    

SIUE Successful Communities Collaborative Helps Revitalize Venice, Brooklyn and Madison Townships

Venice City Collaborative Workforce/Youth Services Program

The Engineering Technician Training (ET2) Program, a 10-week training institute, funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO), has accepted its first cohort of trainees. Training includes classroom instruction, hands-on training in laboratory and field, and on-the-job training in the field – all designed to fulfill the need of the construction industry by training the underutilized but motivated adults to become entry-level technicians.