Community Engagement

Addressing the needs and interests of our diverse communities locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.


Law students serve the community while clients enrich their experience


Guided by its namesake’s commitment to public service, UofL’s Louis D. Brandeis School of Law is constantly seeking opportunities to support, grow and engage with the local community.

Having served for years as the alma mater for many of the lawyers based in Jefferson and the surrounding counties, the law school makes its mission to serve the broader Louisville community while also helping law students obtain the practical legal experience they need under the guidance and supervision of experts in the field.

In pursuit of these goals, the Brandeis School of Law built three robust law clinics in the past 15 years. The Ackerson Law Clinic, Entrepreneurship Clinic and Trager-Brandeis Elder Law Clinic have become integral parts of the school in the tradition of Brandeis, the Louisville native and former U.S. Supreme Court associate justice for whom the school is named.

The three clinics operate throughout the academic year and cater to community residents who need support in areas such as housing and family law, business startup and estate planning, but who do not have the means to hire private law firms. 

Expanding help across the community – Ackerson Law Clinic

Founded in 2009, the Robert and Sue Ellen Ackerson Law Clinic is the longest running of the law school’s clinics, and has helped more than 1,400 domestic violence victims to date. It was created to work with emergency protective order hearings, divorce actions and housing cases, with many clients referred from the Legal Aid Society of Louisville. In its 14 years, it has expanded to include a mediation clinic. Most recently, a new translation pilot program has been pioneered with UofL’s classical and modern languages department to serve even more members of the community.

Clinic Director Heend Sheth has been with the Ackerson Clinic since 2018, serving as interim director for two years before her recent appointment. She sees the value to local law firms in hiring students who served in the clinic.

“Each student goes through intense training and is in the courtroom as soon as possible. They are first-chair on their cases in a matter of three or four weeks. I can’t describe how helpful this experience is when you are a new lawyer; we are sending students into the workforce having had real trial experience. Most of our students practice between 10 and 15 cases per semester,” Sheth said. “It’s amazing.”

The Ackerson Clinic’s work gives vital support to people of all backgrounds in the local community; thus, the Interpretation and Translation Pilot program was set in motion this year. Third-year law student Jason Raff conceived the program to help the clinic include potential clients for whom English is a second language, while also supporting the development of language students.

Having previously worked with the Kentucky courts system as an interpreter, Raff’s experience came to mind when he came to Brandeis School of Law. “I felt the Ackerson Clinic had possible language needs that were going unmet,” Raff said. “When I had more contact with the clinic, the idea began to crystalize and take shape.”

Given its success in the first year, Sheth can see this project expanding. “I see a lot of opportunity for growth here, including adding the mediation clinic to the mix,” she said.

Helping startups with their start – Entrepreneurship Clinic

The Entrepreneurship Clinic was founded in 2012 to provide law students with experiential learning opportunities by offering legal support to the Entrepreneurship MBA program at UofL’s College of Business. Here, MBA students are the clients, and representing them takes many forms. Law students at the Entrepreneurship Clinic help frame articles of organization, operating agreements, independent contractor agreements and option agreements for technology while offering opinions of counsel. The clinic runs as a corporate department of a law firm might, with weekly firm meetings covering agreements, accounting, intellectual property, ethics, Food and Drug Administration approval and other topics.

Abi McFarland, a third-year law student, participated in the Entrepreneurship Clinic’s cohort this year to expand her knowledge of the field. “The Entrepreneurship Clinic was a great way to learn practical skills and network with experts in the community,” she said.

With the supervision of clinic directors Will Metcalf and Carlos Hernandez Ocampo, McFarland and her fellow students gained real-world experience. “We were able to apply principles from our doctrinal classes to client interactions with University of Louisville students,” McFarland said. She and her fellow students also receive support from other members of the law faculty and several local firms. Students in this clinic also meet with MBA professors to develop an understanding of their student clients’ ideation process.

McFarland is one of many who benefit from the opportunity to engage with the everyday problems they will encounter in the business field after graduation. She and eight other students worked with the Entrepreneurship Clinic in the past semester, totaling 78 students who have benefited from the clinic in the past five academic years.

Respecting elders with legal aid – Trager-Brandeis Elder Law Clinic

The law school recently developed the Trager-Brandeis Elder Law Clinic in conjunction with the UofL Trager Institute. Designed to meet two important needs, it supports law students through real-life interactions and experiences in the field of estate planning and provides valuable legal advice to those with limited access to resources and legal representation.

The Elder Law Clinic, hosted at the Trager Institute, opened its doors in 2021. The original concept was brought to fruition by Clinic Director Misty Vantrease, an experienced and well-regarded local elder law attorney. Under her supervision, the clinic successfully served 22 clients in just its first year and provided client-facing experiential training to 19 students.

Emily Monarch, co-director of the Elder Law Clinic, is enthusiastic about its mission. “The clinic provides each client with important end-of-life documents such as a durable power of attorney, health care surrogate designation, living will and last will and testament,” Monarch said. “Many clients would not otherwise have access to this service.”

Sydney Dazzo, a third-year law student, demonstrated the impact the clinic has on both the community and the students.

“In talking and working with the clients, it was clear that our efforts were making an impact in their lives as well. The clients I worked with were so appreciative to be getting their estate planning documents in order, Dazzo said. “Being able to help actual clients with their estate planning needs while still in school was a great feeling and has made me even more excited for my future legal career.”

Vantrease is ambitious about the clinic’s future. “As the clinic prepares to take on more clients, we have a dream of one day being a full-time, five days-a-week law clinic. With the support of the community and the University of Louisville, the little clinic that exists today is just the beginning,” she said.

The critical services that these clinics provide are immeasurable and grow with each year. As these programs continue to grow, so do their legacy, true to the school’s namesake and his commitment to public service.

Community Dental Clinic to partner with School of Dentistry in Owensboro


Speed School open STEM+ Hub for K-12 students and community activities


UofL strengthens Ghana pediatric partnership


APLU recognizes UofL project for exemplary community engagement

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has recognized the University of Louisville for its exemplary community engagement project Age-Friendly Louisville, a partnership of UofL’s Trager InstituteMetro LouisvilleAARP and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency Area Agency on Aging (KIPDA).

“UofL is committed to its role as an engaged institution passionate about partnering and collaborating with external constituencies and communities. This partnership between the university’s Trager Institute and its partners is a win-win for both UofL and the community,” said Douglas Craddock Jr., UofL’s vice president for community engagement. “The university benefits from engaged scholarship, and our elderly citizens receive necessary services that help them live their best lives.”

In 2015, the Trager Institute led efforts to support Louisville’s participation in the Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities by AARP and the World Health Organization (WHO), resulting in Louisville becoming the 120th U.S. Age-Friendly city.

With 40 percent of Louisville’s population projected to be 60 years or older by 2050, creating an environment where seniors could age well in place was essential to promoting well-being and ensuring the city continues to thrive. The Trager Institute guided the creation of a strategic plan using a needs assessment and participatory community engagement approaches, including listening sessions, concept mapping methods and presentations to the public.

“The Trager Institute started on this journey in 2015 to engage community partners in the vision of Age-Friendly Louisville. Community-based organizations, local government and residents across Louisville have worked tirelessly on the strategic plan to realize the dream of becoming age-friendly for all regardless of one’s age or abilities. It has been such an honor to engage in this collaborative leadership,” said Anna Faul, executive director of the Trager Institute.

The Trager Institute partnered with Metro Louisville, AARP and KIPDA to successfully implement Age-Friendly Louisville’s long-term plan to address the needs of the aging population and promote inclusive and accessible communities for people of all ages and abilities.

The internal nominating process for the award was coordinated by UofL’s Office of Community Engagement, which provides coaching and mentoring to faculty prior to final submission. UofL has been recognized for all five award nominations submitted in the past. These awards help to enhance UofL’s national profile in community-engaged scholarship.

APLU also announced that four of its member universities have been selected as regional winners of the 2023 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M University will compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be announced at the 2023 APLU Annual Meeting in November.

Since 2007, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have partnered to honor the engagement scholarship and partnerships of four-year public universities. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to deepen their partnerships and achieve broader impacts in their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.

Congratulations to the regional winners of the Kellogg Community Engagement Scholarship Awards and exemplary projects,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “Community engagement is a critical part of public universities’ mission and we’re pleased to highlight the work of institutions that are engaging communities to solve challenges. From the underserved areas of their communities and states to overlooked regions of the world, public research universities are engaging communities to solve the most pressing problems they face.”

A team of community engagement professionals from public research universities judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2023 National Engagement Scholarship Conference.

UofL joins in celebration of SummerWorks, STEM partnership


Central High School, UofL Speed School partnership paying off


Partnership helps Kent School students discover ways to fight domestic violence


Metropolitan College partnership between UPS, local higher education celebrates a quarter-century of success




Back in the late 1990s, UPS’s Louisville air hub, known today as Worldport, was wrestling with a significant problem. Needing employees round-theclock, the company was finding it difficult to recruit and retain workers for its overnight shifts. As it planned a much-needed expansion, the company knew the problem would only grow.

The solution? Metropolitan College – a unique public-private partnership that dramatically increased tenure among workers during the wee hours each night and provided more than 22,000 students over the past quarter-century the opportunity to earn a college degree debt-free.

Metro College allows students at the University of Louisville or Jefferson Community and Technical College to work third shift at Worldport at Muhammad Ali International Airport. In return, they earn a weekly paycheck and payment of their tuition, academic bonuses and fee payment assistance. The program receives state support to fund up to 50% of tuition and fees. The company also provides academic bonuses that include semester and graduation bonuses.

The program launched in the fall semester of 1998 as a partnership among UofL, JCTC, UPS, Louisville Metro Government and the commonwealth of Kentucky. As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, it has proved to be a resounding success in providing access to education and bolstering the local workforce.

Metro College Counselor Patrick McKinney works with a student.

“Metropolitan College is one of those initiatives that seemingly has no downside,” said UofL President Kim Schatzel. “Prior to my academic career, I spent 20 years in industry, so I see the value of Metro College across the board. In making this program possible, the state of Kentucky, UPS, JCTC and UofL have created a national model of what a combined education-workforce-economic development initiative can and should be.”

High on the list of pride points is that students graduate 100% debt-free. They also have the benefit of the Metro College Career and Academic Planning Program that helps students navigate the higher education experience and find careers after graduation.

“In addition to paying for college, Metro College provides a student with a livelihood while they are in college,” said Ty Handy, JCTC president. “That is crucial for many students who must support themselves either fully or partially while they are in school. And the added value of the career and academic guidance they receive cannot be underestimated.”

Another major result of the program involves third-shift worker tenure. Prior to the program’s launch, the average tenure of a third-shift worker was eight weeks. As of fall 2022, tenure increased to three years.

“For UPS, the success of Metro College has been integral to our ability to deliver what matters to our customers around the world,” said UPS President Jim Joseph. “In addition to the steady source of talent to help us run our Worldport operation, the program provides student-workers the opportunity to pursue their dreams debt-free, while also receiving competitive pay, benefits and work-life experience and guidance. Our community benefits by growing and enhancing the talent pool within the commonwealth. The program really is a win-win-win for all involved.” 

Thalia Almenares

Thalia Almenares came to Louisville in 2016 from Cuba and began work at UPS in 2017. Through Metro College she started taking classes at JCTC before transferring to UofL where she is poised to graduate in May as a dental hygienist.

“UPS was the best bet for my dreams,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it when they told (me) they were going to pay my tuition 100% in full. But also, with the help of the UPS team, I was able to overcome the language barrier and have a job to support my family while earning a great education. The program also provides you with a great work-life balance. I wasn’t sure if it was possible to be a student and work at the same time, but UPS opens that door.”

Another program benefit is the chance to learn leadership skills and to rise in the ranks while still enrolled in college. Just ask Jeff Wafford ’03 and Donovan Neal ’19.

“Coming out of high school, I knew I couldn’t pay for college. I was actually planning to go into the military until a friend of mine told me about UPS two months before the semester started,” Neal said. “I began in August 2012 in the UPS hub as a package handler and eventually got a role as a supervisor in finance and accounting.” He graduated from UofL with a degree in finance and today works in human resources for UPS.

Likewise, Wafford progressed through the ranks of the multinational shipping company. He enrolled in Metro College more than two decades ago and started as a package handler. “I then became a training and development supervisor, training new hires, and I’ve been lucky enough to advance through customer relations and business development.” 

Wafford, now director of public affairs in government affairs, continues to tout Metro College. “Today, I not only have the chance to talk about it to our leaders here locally and throughout Kentucky but also to the states I cover, in the Virginias and the Carolinas. They all want to know, ‘What can we do in our states to have a program like this?’ ”

Almenares and Neal talk up the program as well.

“I tell people that if UPS is my big family, then Metro College would be my mother,” Almenares said. “I say this because my mother makes sure that I have food, that I feel supported and loved, that I have everything I need. Well, Metro College provides me everything regarding school needs.”

Donovan Neal

“I was a supervisor in finance and accounting, but I knew my impact could be greater in an HR role because I wanted to actually talk to these students,” Neal said. “I tell them, all you have to do is work third shift and maintain a C (average) or better, versus having to pay for your tuition.”

The rigors of overnight work – Metro College students work 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. about 15 hours per week – coupled with college enrollment can be daunting, but Metro College staff at UofL and JCTC help students handle it. The staff members advise entering students to enroll as a parttime student to get adjusted to the new routine. And they provide advice on life skills that students may need.

“I am extremely grateful to all the Metro College staff because the wraparound services they provide are vital,” Wafford said. “I barely knew how to open a checking account when I started, so to have somebody explain things like this to me was so important. These are the things that are so vital to these students that make the program a success.”

As for handling the late hours that the job requires, Wafford notes that working overnight may not be as much of a problem as might be imagined.

“Twenty-three years ago, my then-college roommate and I were up at 3 o’clock in the morning, as college students sometimes are, and we saw this ad for Metro College,” he said. “We said, ‘You know what? We should do this. We’re up all night anyway. We have these loans we’re getting ready to take out, and we need some money.’ So the next day, we applied.

“I’ve talked about Metro College for 23 years and hopefully (because of) my son, I’ll get to talk about it for the next 23 years,” Wafford said “Let’s keep this program going, for the students, for the future of the commonwealth.”

For more information about Metro College visit

UofL partnership with GE Appliances and Bullitt County Public Schools offers guaranteed entrance to Speed School

UofL, JCPS celebrate 2023 Louisville Teacher Residency graduates

UofL medical students honored for paving the path for kids affected by gun violence

A ceremony on Tuesday, May 9 honored the medical students and showed appreciation for the time and effort they put into building the curriculum and stimulating a real impact on these kids and teenagers. Karen Udoh, who has served as a leader and voice of the Future Healers Program, was recognized with a special send off as she heads to Baltimore to start her residency with the Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine. Udoh will remain a part of Future Healers as an advisor.

Since October of 2020, the partnership has brought over 100 kids to the program.

Louisville has seen a significant increase in gun violence in the last decade, including two mass shootings in the last month. The health care response from the UofL Hospital – J. David Richardson Trauma Center, paired with the Future Healers Program aims to create a hope for the kids in this community.

Eboni Cochran receives 2023 award for Outstanding Community Partner

Eboni Cochran is the recipient of the 2023 UofL Outstanding Community Engagement Award for a Community Partner. Eboni is the is co-director of Rubbertown Emergency Action (REACT), a grassroots organization of citizens living on or near the fenceline of Rubbertown. Rubbertown is host to 11 large chemical plants, the largest source of industrial emissions in the city.  A trusted voice in environmental justice efforts for several decades, Eboni regularly leads Environmental Injustice tours around west Louisville, and also co-directs West Louisville Math and Science. Recently, she has been working with Megan Poole, UofL assistant professor of English, College of Arts & Sciences, and Dr. Poole’s students, on the Air Justice project. The Air Justice project aims to make engaging with the issue of air pollution easier, and also seeks to amplify what communities in Louisville want from environmental health equity work. Air Justice works with scholars, students, and local community members like Eboni to research solutions that bring legislative change and decrease toxic emissions in neighborhoods.


Eboni also received the 2023 Josh Smith Award for Sustainability pictured above


Outstanding Community Engagement Award winners also included:

  • UofL students Adrienne Smith, Kendria Kelly-Taylor, Jason Deakings for their work with young adults are affected by HIV. The Fighting Injustices among African American Youth Project works to address HIV testing and prevention barriers among justice-involved African American young adults.
  • UofL Assistant Professor of Comparative Humanities Dr. Hilaria Cruz won the faculty award. Dr. Hilaria Cruz grew up speaking Chatino, a language for which there was no writing system. She was forced to learn Spanish in school.  However, as a PhD student, working with two others, she co-developed a writing system for Chatino. Since then, Dr. Cruz has devoted her professional life to promoting literacy in Chatino. The Chatino Tonal Books Project is one way she has worked to achieve this goal. With her students, both undergraduate and graduate, she has written and published 19 children’s books.
  • Jason Beare received the staff award for starting the Louisville H.E.R.O. Run/Walk/Ruck 5k to raise money for local Veterans in 2022. Thanks to the participants, donations, and sponsorships from numerous local and national businesses, they donated $7500 to Veterans Club, Inc., which used the funds to aid Kentuckiana-area Veterans in financial crisis. They also donated a full $5000 scholarship to the Salute to Scholarship Fund at UofL.

The Outstanding Community Engagement Award was created in 2009 as a way to recognize faculty, staff, students, and community partners who are involved in outstanding community engagement service. Honorees engaged in exemplary community engagement activities such as volunteerism, outreach, partnerships, curricular engagement, or community-based research receive $1,000, a crystal award, and their name added to the permanent recognition display located in Ekstrom Library.


Reflecting on the April 10 shooting: a message from President Schatzel

Louisville Skyline

The shooting in downtown Louisville on April 10 continues to shake all of us, especially those who were closest to the victims. Several members of our campus community were beloved family members and dear friends of the victims of the horrible attack. Please keep those injured or killed, those that love them, our fellow Cardinals and our entire Louisville community in your prayers and thoughts. I know you join me in sending our deepest condolences to those who lost a loved one so tragically in the shooting.

I want to make sure to recognize and appreciate the heroic actions of those in our community who responded quickly, bravely and professionally in the early moments of the horrific attack and throughout the day. 

I know you all join me in offering our tremendous gratitude to the courageous officers of Louisville Metro Police Department who rushed into the Old National Bank Building, saving lives while putting themselves at great risk.

Within minutes, officers from our own UofL Police Department arrived to support LMPD. These brave members of our community worked quickly with LMPD to secure the scene itself as well as throughout the hospital district. I cannot say it often enough how greatly I appreciate our colleagues – the officers of ULPD – as each day they work tirelessly to keep our community safe.

We all recognize with deep gratitude the efforts of our colleagues at UofL Health – UofL Hospital – the trauma doctors, nurses and staff – who provided outstanding emergency medical care to those injured in the attack and continue to care for them. In our darkest moments, these heroes, as well as other first responders, exhibited true bravery and professionalism in serving their fellow citizens. I feel, as I know we all do, humbled by their actions and grateful to all of them. 

I want to remind everyone that asking for help, especially in times of trauma and stress, is a most important part of recovery. Help is available for those needing additional support. Students can call our Counseling Center at 502-852-6585 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or access  other options at Counseling for our faculty and staff is available through our Employee Assistance Program provider, Anthem EAP. Call 800-865-1044 or go to > Select “Member Log In” > Type “University of Louisville.”  

As we all work to find a path forward in the midst of this tragedy, although I have only been a part of UofL for less than three months, I have great faith in our Cardinal and Louisville communities. I have quickly learned that Cardinals stick together, especially when they need each other most. Please take an extra moment to care for yourself, your classmates and your colleagues, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the university for support.


Kim Schatzel, Ph.D.

Third-year law student talks about experience serving at the Trager-Brandeis Elder Law Clinic

Celebrating excellence in service through community engagement


Jason Beare, research manager in the department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, was awarded the 2023 Outstanding Community Engagement Award in the staff category at the 8th Annual Engaged Scholarship Symposium sponsored by the University of Louisville Office of Community Engagement on March 24, 2023. The intent of the Community Engagement Award is to recognize exemplary contributions that impact the well-being of the community or individuals in the community. Beare received a monetary award and his name added to a permanent recognition display in Ekstrom Library on UofL’s Belknap campus.

A 14-year employee of the University and longstanding UofL Staff Senator, Beare and his wife, Melissa, created the Louisville Honor Earned, Remembrance Owed (H.E.R.O.) Run/Walk/Ruck 5K to honor military personnel while supporting Kentuckiana-area veterans and dependent students. The event was first held in June 2022 with nearly three hundred participants, including virtual runners from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kosovo, and Horn of Africa.

Through the inaugural event, Beare raised more than $12,000 to benefit veterans and veteran dependents. A $7,500 donation was awarded to Veterans Club, Inc. to assist local veterans who have fallen on financial hardships. Numerous local veterans received life-changing support thanks to the donation, including a new HVAC unit for a disabled veteran caring for his spouse with severe asthma, housing assistance for a veteran and his family living in a storage unit, and food assistance for an elderly disabled veteran.

“What is more amazing,” said Kyle Hurwitz, director of the Center for Military-Connected Students, “is the enduring impact their actions will have on UofL students through their $5,000 H.E.R.O. Run/Walk/Ruck 5K contribution to UofL’s Salute to Service scholarship fund for veteran and dependent students.” Awarded for the first-time in fall 2022, the scholarship is changing lives. The first recipient was a Freshman Music Therapy major, and youngest daughter of a deceased veteran. The student is a Type 1 Diabetic, struggling to afford insulin and continuous glucose monitoring. The scholarship is allowing her to not have to choose between medical care and tuition bills and is enabling her to continue her education.

Beare was also able to bring positive attention to the University of Louisville campus, partnering with various offices in support of the event. University Athletics were involved in hosting the Start/Finish line at Cardinal Track Stadium. UofL Police provided security officers and police officers for road closures and overall safety. UofL Parking provided the barricades for road closures, and also offered free parking in the Floyd Street garage for all race participants.

“Melissa and I had no idea what to expect when we started talking about creating a charity 5K event for veterans,” said Beare. “We thought we’d be lucky to get 100 participants and donate a couple thousand dollars. The support of the UofL community has been a humbling and rewarding experience, and truly helped grow the Louisville H.E.R.O. Run beyond our wildest expectations. The 2023 event will be even bigger and better.”

The School of Medicine recognizes the importance of supporting our community, and we are proud of the engagement that Jason Beare has achieved through his service to veterans in the city of Louisville. The next Louisville H.E.R.O. Run/Walk/Ruck 5K will occur on June 3, 2023 to close out Memorial week.


Dental student honored for community service

American Council on Education leader Marisol Morales to keynote 8th Annual UofL Engaged Scholarship Symposium

Central High School students in Pre-Medical Magnet Program receive white coats at UofL

Central High School students in Pre-Medical Magnet Program receive white coats at UofL

UofL receives nearly $1.2 million from Humana Foundation to address community’s heart health

Community Engagement

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