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Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program

Apply here for assistance 


  1. Community and neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis and St. Paul
  2. Community organizations and government agencies in the Twin-Cities metro area


Communities in the Twin Cities are grappling with interconnected challenges and at the same time face persistent disparities. The Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program (Nelson Program) is a unique opportunity for community organizations to engage with the University to co-create approaches that address these public problems. The Nelson program provides community organizations and metro area government agencies with community-driven, applied student-based research and technical assistance and creates opportunities for shared understanding and action based on the results.

See the Annual Report for more on the program and for project ideas.

The Nelson Program:

  • Strengthens practice of community and neighborhood-based organizations helping them build capacity to achieve their mission.
  • Provides students with opportunities to apply their research and technical skills to real world community challenges and gain experience that provides them value as future leaders.
  • Gives priority to communities of color and disadvantaged communities
  • Communicates the meaning of research results to stakeholders
  • Facilitates discussion and implementation of research findings
  • Supports place-based community-university partnerships
  • Uses research and staff commitment to contribute to the direction of broader public policy discussions

PROGRAM: The Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, named in honor of its founding director, builds partnerships between community-based organizations and government agencies and local colleges and universities. The research and technical needs of organizations are matched with student research assistants to carry out community-defined and guided projects. The Nelson Program provides approximately 200 hours of student time to work on a project in the spring and fall semesters, or 260 hours during the summer.

The Nelson Program is supported, in part, by a grant from The McKnight Foundation.

APPLICATIONS: Applications are accepted three times a year. Financial contributions from organizations selected for assistance are important to leveraging our resources to serve more projects, and are always appreciated.

Community organizations receive the support of a student research assistant (undergraduate or graduate) to work on a project defined and directed by the community organization. Student research assistants are supported by the community supervisor, CURA Program program staff, and—if the student wishes—faculty mentors. To look for current job openings, please visit the University of Minnesota employment portal and search by for the keyword "CURA".

C Terrence Anderson Director of Community Based Research (612) 624-8988