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DCE Staff Partner with Cochrane Institute Students

VCU faculty and staff from the Division of Community Engagement and Virginia Mentoring Partnership collaborated with high school students during June and July as part of Cochrane Summer Economic Institute (CSEI).

CSEI is a community outreach program administered by Collegiate School and funded by the Powell Economic Education Foundation. This year, participants in the program partnered with the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) and the VCUArts Sculpture Department.

Four students from Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts And Technology; Maggie Walker Governor's School; Collegiate School; and Clover Hill High School were tasked with researching existing teen outreach art programs across the country that work in urban areas, assessing the local needs in Richmond and exploring funding opportunities to make recommendations regarding teen programs at ICA and for the VCUArts Sculpture Department. 

"We met with the students to discuss VCU's commitment to community engagement, mentorship and youth programming and evaluation," said Tessa McKenzie, research coordinator for the Division of Community Engagement. "We went over the importance of understanding community-identified need when planning outreach efforts and aligning efforts with regional needs, along with best practices in conducting focus groups and using national and local data sources."

Over four weeks, the students researched and gathered information that was eventually presented as part of their participation in CSEI. Their findings included best practices of teen programming, youth advisory groups and various data points on access to visual art programming in Richmond.

"The students had a unique opportunity to be at the table, lead the conversation and share their recommendations to enhance VCU's community engagement with the teenage community," McKenzie said. "I was blown away by their data discussion - they nailed it."

For more information, visit CSEI or contact McKenzie at