Defining Factors ofSuccessful University-Based Community Initiatives: An Ethnographic Exploration of oneHealthy Marriage Project

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Successful university-community collaborations require combining the contexts and assets of the higher education system with those of the communities of the higher education institution (Lerner, Ralston, Mullis, Simerly, & Murray, 2000). Compared to university settings, community organizations are more accustomed to service delivery and advocacy than generation of knowledge. Erickson and Weinberg (2000) and Bray, Lee, Smith, and Yorks (2000) counseled that collaborations should be reciprocal and inclusive. Collaborators should recognize the strength of multidisciplinary expertise.

Although collaboration is important, some scholars point to potential inefficiencies or complications in collaborations. Lerner et al. (2000) indicated the downfalls that occur when groups compete for “turf” or leadership or when services are needlessly duplicated. They also highlighted the need to identify and build on community assets and to create sustainable initiatives. Such joint ventures can be especially challenging for leaders tasked with representing their various organizations and used to functioning according to specific administrative processes.

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