Community Collaborations and Research

The Center of Healthy Aging and Innovation (CHAI) is committed to facilitating vibrant, effective partnerships between CHAI faculty, students, and staff and our many Community Partners. One way we do this is by linking our Community Partners with faculty, students and resources at the UMN for joint projects that can advance health equity and have a positive impact on the lives of older adults.

For UMN Faculty and Researchers

Prior to linking CHAI faculty, students, and staff to potential Community Partners, we recommend that faculty, students, and/or staff complete a Value Proposition.

Once you complete your Value Proposition, please share with the CHAI Leadership Team at as an attachment and either the Director or Associate Director of Equity and Community Engagement will reach out to you to discuss the next steps of getting you connected to the right CHAI Community Partner.

For Community Partners

Community Partners who would like to collaborate on a project should submit the Community Project Proposal Form. All requests will be reviewed within 2-3 weeks of submission, and a member of our Equity and Community Engagement team will reach out to discuss next steps.

Before you submit your project proposal, here are a few things you should know:

In alignment with CHAI’s mission and work, projects can include a broad range of aging-related topics, from policies to services and supports to community programs for older adults, their families and care partners. Ideally, proposed projects also have an equity and diversity lens, and focus on aging issues, needs and priorities of older adults in BIPOC, LGBTQ, underserved and marginalized communities. 

Depending on the needs of your organization or the community you serve, the projects may include:

  • Evaluation of a program or set of services for older adults and their care partners.
  • Program planning and development.
  • Documenting and evaluating the impact of a policy on the quality of life of and outcomes for older adults.
  • Planning a community forum or needs assessment.
  • Developing a culturally-appropriate program for caregivers of older adults.
  • Community-based research, etc.
  • Clear goals and a plan: the project should have a clear statement of purpose, address a community need and have well defined deliverables and timeline. 
  • Real-life experience: the project should provide an opportunity for students and faculty to get hands-on experience and immerse themselves in community work.
  • Good communication: make yourself available for regular meetings and communicate frequently with the team to answer questions and provide information.
  • Student benefits: project work fulfills service-learning or academic credit requirements.
  • Funding: a project that provides some compensation for the work. Having secured a grant or organizational funding is also a plus, but may not be required.

UMN  faculty are experienced researchers with expertise and knowledge related to aging. If a student team is assigned to work on a project as part of the requirements for their academic program, a faculty member will be assigned as the academic advisor or PI (Principal Investigator) on the project. In this role, they will provide instruction and guidance on key project elements, milestones as well as the final evaluation of the project deliverables.

Within 2-3 weeks of submission, the CHAI leadership team will evaluate the project proposal for potential expertise matches and alignment with CHAI’s mission. If your project is selected, the CHAI Leadership Team will then connect you with a faculty member or the right contact person at an academic program that would best match your project needs. Depending on faculty availability and the timing of academic programs, you might have to wait until the start of the following academic semester. Generally, we recommend submissions be made by July 1st in order to be considered during the Fall semester, and by November 1st for the Spring semester. 

There are additional opportunities to connect with UMN students. The following resources can help your organization reach and network with students across a variety of disciplines and programs at the University:

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