Kris Nelson Community-Based  Research Program Header

CURA believes that communities have the skills and experience to conduct research that produces valuable knowledge grounded in lived experiences. We connect community leaders with University resources to expand community research capacity and explore innovative ideas for closing racial and economic disparities around the region. 

Racial Equity Framework
CURA's Research Model

Program Goals

The Nelson program, named in honor of founding director Kris Nelson, provides community-driven, applied research and technical assistance to community organizations and metro-area government agencies. We match the research and technical needs of organizations with student research assistants to carry out community-defined and -guided projects. CURA works with organizations selected for the program to create shared understanding and action based on the results. 

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 goals of the program are to support place-based and community-based organizations to create impact in the following areas:

  1. People and Places - Builds the leadership and power of low income communities, communities of color, immigrant communities, seniors, people with disabilities, youth, renters or other historically excluded communities in a neighborhood or specific geographic area. Addresses a community issue, need or opportunity.
  2. Organizations - Supports the capacity of community-based, neighborhood or other place-based organizations to more effectively and equitably engage and involve the diversity of their community in the leadership of their organization. Makes neighborhood or other place-based organizations more representative of the communities in which they work.
  3. Collaborations - Builds strong networks and relationships within and/or among diverse cultural or geographic communities.
  4. Systems - Expands the influence of community members on neighborhood systems, practices, initiatives and policies that lead to greater racial, social and economic equity.

The Nelson program gives priority to communities of color and disadvantaged communities.

Selection Criteria

We select grantees for the Nelson program based on the following criteria: 

  1. Clear problem or opportunity statement 
  2. Clear definition of who the research benefits and how. Projects benefiting low-wealth communities and communities of color receive priority.
  3. Clear description of how affected people will be involved in the process.
  4. Clear description of how will the results be used and what will their impact be.
  5. Other partners and context


The Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program considers applications for applied research assistance three times a year. Proposals are due by the following dates for assistance during the time periods indicated:

Links and resources