Engaging in Grassroots Problem-Solving

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A newer element of Northeastern’s research offerings is a series of “impact engines” and “accelerators,” which are cross-divisional projects dedicated to solving a broad range of specific societal problems—and one of them will call the Mills campus home.

Professor of Business Practice Carrie Maultsby-Lute, MBA ’11, who also serves as the director of the Center for Transformative Action (CTA) at Mills, is co-lead of an impact accelerator that aims to use community-engaged research to identify solutions to issues that negatively impact Bay Area residents. “City to City: Finding Equitable Solutions to Local Policy Problems” will do a deep dive by collecting data from the people who are experiencing and affected by issues such as income inequality, gentrification, and homelessness, which is similar to the existing mission of the CTA to bring together disparate groups to problem-solve in a collaborative fashion.

“Due to the history of gentrification, many Oaklanders are wary of new institutions—which makes Mills College at Northeastern’s touchpoints with the larger community crucial,” says Maultsby-Lute, whose co-lead is Alicia Modestino, the research director at the Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy on Northeastern’s Boston campus. “I believe Mills College at Northeastern has an opportunity to build community and trust with Oakland residents and show the larger world how community-engaged research can support conscious development that strengthens the overall region.”

As an accelerator rather than an engine, “City to City” will also provide support to more specific projects happening as part of the program. Impact engines across the Northeastern network include “Experiential Associate to Master’s,” which will assist resumers in finishing their college educations through student support and success coaches; and “Intelligent Solutions to Urban Pollution for Equity and Resilience,” which will bring low-cost censors to densely populated areas to provide data about pollutants on a micro level.