The Community First Initiative places the needs, aspirations, and voices of our local community at the forefront of our research endeavors. Community First represents a pledge to ensure that our work is not just academically rigorous but deeply relevant and impactful for the communities we call home.

Current Projects

Community First Fellows – now recruiting for Summer 2024

The Community First Fellows program is designed to facilitate deeper connections between academia and community-engaged research and learning opportunities for graduate students at Rutgers-Camden. If you’d like to be considered for a fellowship, please complete our interest form here

Here are some of the organizations fellows have been placed at and the variety of projects they have supported:

Spring 2024 Pilot

This semester, we piloted the Community First Fellows model through a graduate course taught by CURE Director Dr. Stephen Danley. Fellows in the course were paired with a community organization and together they developed a research project which advanced the mission of the community partner. In this way, the standard curriculum for community development research methods was flipped. Instead of starting with a ‘gap in the literature’, it started the research process by engaging in rich community work. This direct experience with community led research was supported by class reflection and course readings, which allowed fellows to build a valuable toolkit of methodological knowledge that they can bring to future community work

Summer Fellowships

We plan to continue to expand the Community First Fellows by launching summer fellowships in which graduate students perform community work while receiving training and a stipend. 

Equity Analysis of Camden’s Open Enrollment Process

Funded by the Rutgers Urban Innovation Fund and the Rutgers Equity Alliance for Community Health, this project partners with One Camden to analyze equity of Camden’s Universal Enrollment process. In Camden, households can apply to send their children to any school in the city. Through this partnership, we test application data to analyze equity within that system.

Partnership with the South Jersey Institute for Population Health (SJIPH)

Starting January 1, 2024, CURE announced a partnership with SJIPH to support the Institute’s funding of community-engaged research. SJIPH funds collaborations between Rowan University researchers, Rutgers University-Camden researchers, and community partners. CURE supports that research through technical support, data analysis and strategic planning. Dr. Danley serves as the Rutgers Co-Lead for SJIPH.


Check back for more information on the launch of new projects within the Community First initiative soon!