Gulf Coast Historically Black College and Universities-Community Based
Organization Equity Consortium: A Model Southern Region Initiative
The Gulf Coast Historically Black College and Universities-Community Based
Organization Equity Consortium s (HBCU-CBO Consortium) is co-directed by Dr. Robert Bullard, Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, and Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc. With a $3.3 million five-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Consortium’s goal is to improve the health and well-being of children and families in selected communities in five Gulf Coast states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida). Members of the Consortium are dedicated leaders of community-based organizations and accomplished professors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
We expect that the work of the Consortium will be transformative and will be guided by the nexus of three foundational principles. The first guiding principle is a mainstay of Environmental Justice work: “People must speak for themselves.” The Consortium is designed to listen to community concerns first and then provide education and training on identified issues preparing community residents to have a voice on critical issues.
The second guiding principle is centered on the establishment of an equitable partnership between a community and a university: “Communiversity.” The Community University Partnership Model, developed by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, sets guidelines and processes for ensuring an equal voice in the partnership between community members and academic researchers.
The third guiding principle is important to the effectiveness of the “Community-Based Participatory Research Model.” This model sets parameters on the role of the academic researcher in order to ensure that the overall project – the action of the partnership—is community-driven and that community members are substantively participating in the project.
Much care will be taken to remain true to these three principles in order to safeguard the integrity of the work undertaken by the Consortium. We believe that by HBCUs working with communities in this way – with academics respecting community knowledge and valuing community input – communities can be strengthened. Ultimately, communities will increase their impact and build their capacity to effect change that improves the health and well-being of their children and families.
The HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium is designed with the aim of leaving each community better off than they were when they joined the Consortium. This means each community will have increased their capacity to organize and advocate for solutions to the challenges they face concerning environmental health, economic prosperity, and social justice.
The Consortium envisions that the voices within Gulf Coast region communities are heard; that community members are educated on the issues most important to them; that they are trained in the use of effective strategies and will put these strategies into action; that their strategic action results in the transformation of their communities so that children and families enjoy improved health outcomes and a better quality of life.
Integral to this vision is the replication of ideas, knowledge, methods, and strategies throughout communities in the Gulf South, causing demonstrable regional improvements in the lives of children and families.