About the program

UniverCity Year helps Wisconsin communities find practical solutions to their toughest challenges. We focus UW-Madison’s last research, state-of-the-art technology, and award-winning faculty and student scholars on the needs that communities identify.


Program details

UniverCity Year is a three-phase partnership between UW-Madison and one community in Wisconsin.

In phase one, the community partner identifies projects that would benefit from UW-Madison expertise, and UniverCity Year staff match projects with faculty across the university. In phase two, faculty incorporate these projects into their courses with graduate students and upper-level undergraduate students. During phase three, UniverCity Year staff provide project implementation support. Throughout the partnership, UniverCity Year staff provide administrative support to help keep the collaboration running efficiently and effectively. The result is on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more sustainable and livable future.

Our partners have included:

UniverCity Year is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N).

You may like to sign up for our e-mail list to stay up-to-date on program news and events.

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I get involved with UniverCity Year?

    Communities interested in applying to UniverCity Year should contact us for more information and to learn about our Request for Proposals process. We are always interested in hearing from faculty and instructional staff about incorporating UniverCity Year projects into their classrooms. Students should watch the website to learn about which courses will be participating in our program in any given semester.

  • Why should my community partner with UniverCity Year?

    UniverCity Year partners have access to interdisciplinary experts in cutting-edge sustainability research and practice; receive succinct final reports featuring research, concept plans, designs, and policy recommendations that can energize staff, increase the range of options available, and get “stuck” projects moving; and interact with engaged students who may be candidates for future internships or staff positions.

  • Who can apply to UniverCity Year?

    Partnerships are most commonly led by a city or county in collaboration with community organizations, boards of education, public health agencies, development authorities and others. There is no size restriction for a community partner. Our partners have included the City of Monona (~8,000 residents) and Dane County (~516,000 residents).

  • What is the community's time commitment?

    The community’s program coordinator should expect to spend an average of 10 hours per week on the project. More time is required during the initial phase of the program, and less time is required once the program is under way.

  • How much does UniverCity Year cost?

    That depends on several factors, including the number of projects a community would like to address, the number of courses matched to each project, the availability of grant funds to supplement the partnership, etc. Don’t let cost stand in your way. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your ideas and a potential partnership.

  • What resources does the university provide the community?

    UniverCity Year staff with expertise in sustainability, project management and communications provide ongoing support throughout the year to ensure high-quality outcomes that meet the partner community’s needs. Support will include matching projects to courses; coordinating university resources; scheduling and facilitating meetings between community staff and faculty; planning large, public events; identifying and coordinating delivery of data and background information; maintaining a partnership website; coordinating media outreach; soliciting feedback from participants; and troubleshooting projects as needed.

Support UniverCity Year

UniverCity Year is made possible through the generous support of American Family Insurance, UW-Madison’s Baldwin Wisconsin Idea EndowmentCOWSNelson Institute for Environmental Studies and alumnus John Holton.

As we seek to expand the program across Wisconsin, we welcome donations of all types and sizes. You may donate online to the Hometown Partnership Fund. Gifts to this fund provide broad, discretionary support to UW-Madison’s UniverCity Year program and will be used to enhance and expand the program’s teaching, research, and public and community engagement roles.

For more information, or other giving options, please contact us.