LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville Signature Partnership initiative is celebrating ten years of supporting education, health, business, and safety projects in west Louisville.

Daniel Hall, U of L’s vice president of community relations, said the Signature Partnership is the university’s collaboration of outreach efforts to connect with the west end. Last year, more than 2,000 students volunteered with at least 100 different events and groups.

"The beautiful thing about that ... these are medical students, law students, engineering students, undergraduate students doing their work," Hall said. "Some of the work is tied to coursework. Some of it is just pure volunteerism."

A main focus of the partnership is educational success by providing kids in impoverished neighborhoods access to necessary resources.

“Collectively, these programs have worked with over 500 middle and high school students annually, helping them and preparing them to enroll in college and helping them succeed in college once they get there,” Hall said.

Hall said, over time, schools in west Louisville have seen improved test scores and teacher retention. The partnership also hopes to focus on safety, health and economic concerns in the west end neighborhoods.

There is an online survey that anyone can fill out to help provide direction for the partnership’s future plans to improve quality of life and well-being in west Louisville.

"We really allow the voices of the residents drive what we do,” Hall said. “We let the residents determine what our priorities are."

The Louisville Central Community Center on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard is one long-time partner. There are many initiatives to help students with tutoring, dance classes and safety resources.

The group also houses a business incubator on the first floor. There is currently one tenant, but the second and third floors are reserved for a new company moving in.

"Those top two floors are really meant to drive a major-to mid-sized to large business here,” said Sam Watkins, the chief executive officer of LCCC. “We'd love for it to be labor-intensive kind of a business, because it would require more employees."

The group is searching on a global scale for the right business to move in and provide more employment opportunities for west Louisville residents.

"We've asked University of Louisville with help to research and identify prospects and the potential for attracting the right type of business here,” Watkins said.

Hall said the partnership is a win-win because it helps the community and the university students feel connected.

"Young students today want to feel like they're making a difference,” Hall said. “They see all the complicated problems of the world. And students want to come to the University of Louisville and take what they have learned in a classroom or a laboratory and go out into the real world and try to address some of the problems.”

To share your ideas, you can fill out the survey by clicking here. Everyone is welcome to participate. 

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