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Community Engagement

The Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Clinical and Translational Research Community Engagement Core brings academic and community partners together to improve community health and heath care through research.

VCU has adopted community-engaged research, or CEnR, as a core goal in its strategic roadmap, Quest for Distinction. VCU has a robust and rigorous CEnR portfolio, including more than 250 CEnR projects and more than 1,000 community partnerships.

Working in collaboration with the university’s Division of Community Engagement, the Community Engagement Core is organizing and coordinating CEnR activities within VCU’s schools and institutions to stimulate collaboration, identify synergy, break down silos of activity and broadly promote the science of CEnR.


The overall goal of CEnR is to improve the health and well being of Virginians and the nation. A core tenant of our CEnR approach is to engage stakeholders across the continuum of clinical and translational science. Accordingly, the focus of specific CEnR activities is determined by our stakeholder partners. 


VCU has formed a federation of senior representatives from all VCU schools and institutions engaged in CEnR, including the CCTR, Division of Community Engagement, schools of Medicine, Nursing, Education, Social Work and the Arts as well as the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Planning Office. The federation is empowered with promoting internal alignment at VCU and acting on community partner directives.

Throughout VCU, there are many schools, centers and institutes that have CEnR as part of their mission, receive CCTR/Division of Community Engagement support and have existing community advisory boards. Federation members participate on these boards to fully understand and bring community needs to VCU.

Infrastructure support

To support the CEnR program at VCU, the CCTR and Division of Community Engagement provide three pillars of support: a knowledge network, capacity building and stewardship. This support and a few highlights are listed below.

Graphic for VCU Community-Engaged Research Program

  • Community Review Board: Based on a process developed at Vanderbilt University, VCU implemented a Community Review Board to offer guidance from community partners to researchers at any stage of their research process. 
  • VIVO: VCU populated VIVO with faculty profiles, community partner profiles and CEnR research publications to promote research networking.
  • Tracking and documentation: VCU prospectively and systematically identifies all CEnR projects as part of the grant submission and IRB application process.
  • Training and professional development: VCU has created and supported multiple student and faculty training and professional development opportunities including an annual CEnR Mini Institute, CEnR Faculty Learning Community, CEnR Interest Group and a CEnR-focused lunch and learn lecture series.