Garden at Avenal, with blooming shrubs framing a dirt path ending with a vine-covered archway. A cell block stands behind the garden, which is surrounded by 10 foot chain-link fence topped with razor wire.
Insight Garden Program (IGP) garden at Avenal state prisons. (Photo Credit: Calliope Correia)

Public Scholarship and Engagement Funds 13 Community-University Collaborations

From improving healthcare access to addressing food insecurity and racial disparities, 13 newly funded public engagement projects at UC Davis will drive positive change in communities in California and around the world.

The campus-community projects were recently awarded 2023 Public Impact Research Initiative (PIRI) grants from UC Davis Public Scholarship and Engagement. Awardees were selected from more than 25 applicants across UC Davis.

“The 2023 PIRI grant winners exemplify the university’s commitment to engaged scholarship and community-driven research. Through their collaborations with local communities, these projects are paving the way for more inclusive and participatory research, creating lasting social impact and reimagining the university’s land-grant mission,” said Michael Rios, vice provost for public engagement and scholarship.

Public Scholarship and Engagement established the PIRI grants in 2019 to recognize and support research that is cogenerated with community partners, is of mutual benefit, and has a positive public impact. The grants provide critical funding for innovative and impactful community engagement projects that might otherwise be overlooked or underfunded.

Diverse range of projects

The 13 projects address pressing issues such as public health, food insecurity and climate change. Read on for a brief overview, and visit Public Scholarship and Engagement for full descriptions and a list of all team members.

Summer Health Institute for Nursing Exploration and Success (SHINES): A Longitudinal View

The SHINES program prepares underrepresented and underserved youth to become successful in their academic aspirations, specifically when pursuing a healthcare career.

  • Faculty lead: Piri Ackerman-Barger, associate dean for health equity, diversity and inclusion; director of faculty development for education; teaching professor; and SHINES program director, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
  • Community partners: Capitol City Black Nurses Association, Sacramento Charter High School, Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School, Improve Your Tomorrow, Cristo Rey High School
Evaluating the Impact of the Increase in Cash Value Benefit for the Purchase of Fruits and Vegetables in Low-Income Diverse Children

The project team will analyze how an increase in the monthly cash value benefit for the purchase of fruit and vegetables in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food program is associated with the diversity of fruits and vegetables redeemed, and how this diversity affects the fruit and vegetable intake of children aged 1-5 years in families served by WIC.

  • Faculty lead: Lauren Au, assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Community partner: Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC program
Historicizing Municipal Reparations in Sacramento

How did the City of Sacramento perpetuate and construct racial disparities in the city? That’s the question that Department of History faculty and graduate students will help the Sacramento Mayor’s Office research this summer, providing support for the city’s municipal reparations effort.

  • Faculty lead: Gregory Downs, professor, Department of History, College of Letters and Science
  • Community partner: City of Sacramento Mayor's Office
Documenting the Mobile Farmers Market Impacts

This project will document the impacts of the Center for Land-Based Learning's Mobile Farmers Market truck, which provides a reliable outlet for urban farmers to sell produce in low-income neighborhoods.

  • Faculty lead: Marcella Gonsalves, lecturer, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine
  • Community partner: The Center for Land Based Learning
Restoring and Rewilding a Q'eqchi' Commons

This partnership with Q’eqchi’ Maya in Guatemala and ACDIP, a Q’eqchi’ peasant federation, will help establish communal forests with culturally significant tree species and jumpstart reforestation in two villages.

  • Faculty lead: Liza Grandia, associate professor, Department of Native American Studies, College of Letters and Science
  • Community partner: ACDIP (Indigenous Peasant Association for the Integrated Development of Petén)
Assessing Soil and Water Quality in Climate-Vulnerable Marin City

Marin City faces issues of crumbling infrastructure, pollution and disinvestment, leading to high rates of chronic health issues and disabilities. This collaboration will address the community-defined need of testing soil and tap water quality.

  • Faculty lead: Alyssa Griffin, assistant professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, College of Letters and Science
  • Community partner: Marin City Climate Resilience and Health Justice
Transgender and Gender-Nonbinary (TNGB) Health: Development of Community-Generated Research Priorities

The project team will increase collaboration with community-based providers of transgender health services in Sacramento and involve TGNB community members in identifying research topics of significance and importance to TGNB health.

  • Faculty lead: Miles Harris, assistant clinical professor, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
  • Community partner: One Community Health
Yolo County Basic Income Pilot Program: Understanding the Impact of a Basic Income Program on Community Violence Exposure

This research will investigate how a guaranteed basic income program impacts exposure to community violence among recipients, using the Yolo County Basic Income pilot program as an example.

  • Faculty lead: Rose Kagawa, assistant professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine
  • Community partner: Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency
The Marchand History Lab: Broadening the California Narrative through K-16 Inquiry

The Marchand History Lab will bring together graduate and undergraduate students, TK-12 teachers and other scholars to learn about historical research using UC Davis' special collections, with an emphasis on Latinx and California history.

  • Faculty lead: Nancy McTygue, executive director of the California History-Social Science Project, Department of History, College of Letters and Science
  • Community partner: California Revealed, California State Library
Collaborative Science in Prison Gardens to Transform Our Relationship with Nature, Science and Community

By implementing citizen science in a prison context, this partnership will provide people who are incarcerated with opportunities for hands-on science learning and environmental education, which can lead to personal growth, improved prison culture and the development of marketable skills for reentry and community engagement.

  • Faculty lead: Ryan Meyer, executive director, Center for Community and Citizen Science, School of Education
  • Community partner: Insight Garden Program
State Paralysis: The Impacts of Procurement Risk on Government Effectiveness

This project will investigate why developing countries like Brazil do not spend substantial portions of their budgets on public services — despite clear needs — by examining the role of procurement risk as a driver of unspent public funds.

  • Faculty lead: Diana Moreira, assistant professor, Department of Economics, College of Letters and Science
  • Community Partner: CONASEMS (Brazilian Council of Municipal Health Secretaries)
Improving Telehealth Access for Populations with Limited English-Proficiency: A Collaboration with United Way California Capital Region

This project will apply human-centered design principles to engage communities with limited English proficiency in developing strategies to improve telehealth equity and accessibility.

  • Faculty lead: Jennifer Rosenthal, associate professor of pediatrics, School of Medicine
  • Community partner: United Way California Capital Region
The Fires We Light: Chronicling Cooperative Burning Practices on the Yurok Reservation and Ancestral Lands

A multimedia exhibition will explore the ecological and social benefits of cooperative burning practices in Humboldt County, California on the Yurok Reservation and ancestral lands, and engage diverse groups of fire practitioners through participatory narrative inquiry and active observation.

  • Faculty lead: Emily Schlickman, assistant professor, Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Community partner: Cultural Fire Management Council

Primary Category