Community Engagement

As part of our mission to provide innovative and accessible lifelong learning opportunities that support individual, organizational and community development, our School does a variety of work assisting social, political and economic growth. Discover examples of current projects assisting refugees, youth and a variety of underserved populations by clicking below.

Center for Consumer Affairs
Center for Urban Community Development
Center for Workforce Development
Employment and Training Institute

Center for Consumer Affairs

The Center for Consumer Affairs serves consumers in Wisconsin and across the nation by helping individuals, businesses, trade associations and lawmakers to make better informed decisions through various activities. Past examples include a survey of consumer perceptions on using electronic funds transfers; employer preferences for child care options; and consumer attitudes toward uninsured motorists.

Center staff are regularly consulted by policy makers, consumer organizations, governmental agencies, individual businesses and various trade associations. Special focus is given to the examination of fair and legal advertisements throughout the auto industry, ensuring consumers are protected from false claims and promises.

For more information, contact: Liza Longhini, Director of the Auto Advertising Standards Program, lizal@uwm.edu, 414-227-3252

Program Area:

Center for Urban Community Development

The Center for Urban Community Development creates innovative, accessible lifelong learning opportunities with a focus on capacity building among diverse central city populations that are often underserved and underrepresented in areas of education and employment as well as in social, political and economic development.

The focus of our educational programs is to address community issues that are identified in collaboration with neighborhood residents, local leaders and officials from both the public and private sectors.

Our strategy is to build partnerships that link underserved residents with local schools, agencies, public officials, and local businesses and employers. We then assist in designing and implementing community initiatives that engage the partners in working together for positive community change. The process includes custom-designed classes, seminars, conferences and service learning activities that combine classroom learning with community action projects. Participants can earn continuing education units or university credits that count toward a college degree.

Many find our programs to be excellent opportunities to test their readiness in starting a college career, resuming a degree program or building a record of continuing education units.

Program Areas:

For more information, contact:
Devarati Syam, Researcher & Director, devasyam@uwm.edu, 414-227-3232
Pa Vang, Program Director, pa@uwm.edu, 414-227-3277
Ekua Paulette Bangura, Faculty Associate, bangura@uwm.edu, 414-227-3281
Elvira T. Asuncion, Program & Operations Director, asuncion@uwm.edu, 414-227-3166

Center for Workforce Development

The Center for Workforce Development works with a wide array of university, business and community partners to research, build and implement development strategies that increase worker skills in the southeast region of Wisconsin.

The Center generates new approaches to building a quality workforce by engaging in active research, study and participation with Workforce Development stakeholders while maintaining involvement in a variety of initiatives,including:

  • Creating industry-specific training for jobs that are likely to develop in the changing economy. The Center works with partners from industry, educational institutions and government to analyze needs and offer classes, certificates and degrees to improve the workforce
  • Exploring the underlying changes in the economy and what they mean for individual workers and employers
  • Examining specific growth industries and developing insights into the skills and knowledge needed by the workforce that will help these industries grow

For more information, contact: Sammis White, Associate Director and Director of Workforce Development, sbwhite@uwm.edu, 414-227-3203.

Employment and Training Institute

The Employment and Training Institute partners with local and state governments, schools, nonprofits, community organizations, and national agencies to address the workforce and education needs of low-income and unemployed workers and their families through applied research, policy development, community education, and technical assistance.

Current ETI work is tackling some of the most serious employment and poverty issues facing the city and state: mass incarceration of black males, prison and jail barriers to employment, driver’s license needs of workers, and socio-economic conditions impacting children and families. Recent examples of ETI community engagement impacts include:


  • Two bipartisan state legislative committees have been established to deal with the problems of mass incarceration in Wisconsin.
  • The Milwaukee County Circuit Courts are working to address racial disparities in criminal justice as impacting residents of color.
  • The Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board is using ETI research to support increased driver’s licensing and recovery programs for local workers.
  • United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin Community Services, and ETI are collaborating on initiatives to restore driver’s education to Milwaukee high schools.
  • Innercity Milwaukee clergy have created a “53206 Initiative” to address imprisonment, reentry, and employment issues for ex-offenders in the 53206 zip code.
  • WUWM produced an award-winning six-month series on “Black Men in Prison,” covering incarceration of black males in Milwaukee.

Institute reports are available at uwm.edu/ETI.

For more information, contact:
John Pawasarat, Director, pawasara@uwm.edu, 414-227-3385
Lois Quinn, Senior Scientist, lquinn@uwm.edu, 414-227-3380