Downtown Whitewater, Inc. and the Classroom to Community Connection

Submitted by Rob Boostrom, Board Vice President for Downtown Whitewater, Inc. and Associate Professor of Marketing for UW-Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is obviously a big part of our community. Yet, often, it seems that the students don’t see much of the town and sometimes don’t feel like they’re part of it. To help bridge the gap between the students and the town, Downtown Whitewater is beginning its Classroom to Community Connection program.

To be sure, this isn’t the only effort in this area. The university’s own Community-Based Learning (CBL) program has been guiding faculty and staff to create really wonderful programs to meet the needs of area businesses and organizations for a while now. They offer many tools for connecting students to community members and Downtown Whitewater, Inc. continues to be a proud partner with this program. You can find out more here:

That said, we feel there are two ways that Downtown Whitewater might help facilitate additional connection. First, we want to continue working with businesses and organizations to connect them to opportunities to work with students via the CBL program. We hope to act as a kind of matchmaker for organizations and instructors who want to take part in that process. Second, some instructors might be interested in trying something less comprehensive than the CBL process. We would like to help those instructors find community partners that might add to the classroom environment in a smaller way.

As such, we are now asking businesses and non-profit organizations to describe up to three different problems that might be addressed in some way by student projects. These should be projects which require the application of some expertise and the output would be some kind of strategic plan, tactical recommendations, or creative work. The problem doesn’t need to be extremely specific or lengthy but should communicate the expected area of expertise that will need to be applied.

For businesses or organizations who are just interested in connecting to students, your problem or interest area might be hypothetical. Consider asking a radical question about how something could be promoted or how a resource might be applied. This can be a way to either get help with a real problem or just connect to students from a particular class in a new way to raise awareness.

We are also asking instructors to provide a brief description of the kind of inputs you’d need (like participation of the business owner) and the outputs a client might expect (such as a plan, presentation, or creative materials). Descriptions generally would only need to be a few sentences long to communicate the basics of what is required.

For businesses, organizations, or instructors that would like to find a partner, please contact Downtown Whitewater’s President, Lisa Dawsey Smith, at Provide either the description of what you’d like a class to help you with, or if you’re an instructor, the description of what you’d need from a partner and what you’d provide. We’ll be collecting these until August 20th. We plan to have all match suggestions sent out by August 28th.

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