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Community Engagement


The Center for Disability Studies in Literacy, Language & Learning (The Center) at UNI directly responds to a history of exclusion, segregation and limited participation in literacy and language for young children, students and individuals with disabilities.  The Center’s research demonstrates and documents that all people, including those considered to have the most severe developmental disabilities, can be full participants in their families, schools, and communities.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning seeks to engage, explore, and enhance the practice of teaching and the culture of learning at UNI.


  • offers opportunities for reflection and conversations on teaching and learning that cultivate and value the variety and diversity of teaching and learning taking place at UNI;
  • promotes research-based pedagogies and practices that encourage student engagement and success;
  • supports the professional and career development of the campus teaching community;
  • designs programming in collaboration with individuals, departments and programs on and offcampus that is aligned with UNI’s institutional mission and strategic goals;
  • and acts as a campus-wide clearinghouse for opportunities to enhance teaching and learning, and to share campus resources and expertise

The Center for Teaching and Learning Mathematics (CTLM) is committed to improving mathematics education and seeks to assist teachers, students, and parents in making sense of mathematics. The CTLM is part of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Science at the University of Northern Iowa and focuses upon two major endeavors:


The CTLM seeks to professionally develop teachers in the area of mathematics. Making Sense Professional Development courses deepen teachers' understanding of mathematics content and implementation of research-based best practice.


The CTLM provides research-based resources that support military families and those that serve them as a contributor to Student Online Achievement Resources (SOAR). The CTLM produces Making Sense Family Resources videos and supplementary educational materials (videos, activities, links, and references) for military families and their children in the areas of mathematics, literacy, and early learning.

STEP provides an opportunity to join community and University resources in developing tourism opportunities which enrich our social and cultural heritage, environmental quality, and economic well-being. The primary purpose of STEP is to enhance education by linking theory to practice.

The Institute for Educational Leadership, a unit of the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa, has as its primary mission to promote the improvement of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education throughout Iowa. To fulfill this mission, the IEL serves as a catalyst for:

  1. Informed dialogue on educational issues impacting schools of Iowa, the region and nation
  2. Developing collaborative relationship with individuals and/or organizations external to schools
  3. Educational policy development

Kindergym was developed around the philosophy that young children benefit by being exposed to a variety of activities that require the utilization of an array of physical, social, and cognitive skills. Although the primary objective of the program's activities is to encourage the child's use of a variety of motor skills, learning opportunities that occur which encourage thinking and/or social skills are not ignored. Kindergym believes that children need to feel liked, to be challenged, and to sense pride in their accomplishments.

Iowa Educational Technology and Training Institute (IETTI)

The IETTI functions as the umbrella for many of the educational technology and training efforts of the Information Technology Services - Educational Technology (ITS-ET) department at UNI. Some of the past projects coordinated by IETTI staff include: a Technology Survey of Iowa PreK-12 teachers to determine the need for and use of technology and technology training; the Iowa/U S WEST Teacher Technology Project in which 400 PreK-12 teachers received laptops and 4,400 PreK-12 teachers received technology training; the UNILinks project which was an Internet organizing service for middle school science teachers; the Visions program designed for PreK-12 Administrators to develop a technology vision for their school; and the 21st Century Learning Infrastructure project designed to take Iowa into the future with digital learning and life-long education. 

The Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB)  in partnership with the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) at the University of Northern Iowa, has formed the Iowa Superintendents Finance and Leadership Consortium (ISFLC), a professional development program for Iowa superintendents to expand their knowledge base and develop fiscal management and leadership skills. The Consortium is offering 1-3/4 day sessions to meet the varied fiscal management and leadership needs of Iowa superintendents.

Created in 1977, the Iowa Writing Project (IWP) offers professional growth opportunities for Iowa teachers and advocates exemplary teaching of writing and use of writing for learning in Iowa schools. IWP is managed by a Steering Committee of five members under policies developed by an Advisory Board of representative educators from across the state. Summer institutes/workshops and self-study seminars during the school year are major project instruments.

IWP focuses on Iowa educators, K - college, extending across the state's vision of writing and a consistent approach to the teaching of writing. The Project cooperates with compatible efforts in other states and is an active member of the National Writing Project network.

To develop and administer international study and exchange programs; provide leadership for initiating programs and responding to opportunities that enhance the objectives of internationalization throughout the university; coordinate programs that bring students from diverse backgrounds into contact with each other utilizing cultural differences as an education resource; provide opportunities for faculty to further develop international collaboration through research and teaching; serve as the principal liaison for international outreach activities to local, state, and regional organizations.

 Since 1995, the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) has been the leader in research, training, and development of S.A.F.E. play areas in the nation! The National Program for Playground Safety seeks to empower communities to create safe, inclusive, and high quality play areas for children. 

PRISMS, which stands for Physics Resources and Instructional Strategies for Motivating Students, began in 1987 as a collection of high-interest activities related to real-life experiences of high school physics students. These activities were referenced in early editions of Paul Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics lab manual. PRISMS has been validated by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Diffusion Network and the Iowa Professional Development Model Content Network. PRISMS PLUS utilizes an enhanced learning cycle pedagogy in which students engage in explorations prior to introduction of abstract concepts. After the concepts have been introduced within the context of these explorations, students then are provided with additional activities that are opportunities to apply what they have learned to real-life experiences.

The UNI Literacy Education Office is a division of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. At the clinic, students enrolled in reading tutoring classes provide clients one-to-one remedial tutoring under the supervision of university faculty and graduate assistants. Following the administration of diagnostic and evaluative measures, each client receives an individually designed remedial program. Tutoring times are arranged with each child's family. There is a small materials fee. Parents, teachers, or other educators can refer children to the center. 

Children who are having extreme difficulty learning to read and write deserve to have educators make every effort possible to ensure their success.  Reading Recovery, and in Spanish, Descubriendo la Lectura, are short-term early interventions designed to support classroom instruction for the lowest-achieving children in first grade -- those having difficulty learning to read and write.

STEM education should start early and when done well, takes advantage of children's natural curiosity to lay a foundation for later STEM learning. CEESTEM supports early childhood educators in creating hands-on, interactive classroom activities that encourage young children to develop and use inquiry processes within STEM to explore and better understand their environments. The activities within the CEESTEM website and offered through professional development have been vetted through research and successfully implemented in classrooms. The activities are exemplars of the NSTA Early Childhood Science Education Position Statement that has also been endorsed by NAEYC. CEESTEM believes quality STEM activities intrigue children and invite them to figure out how to make something happen. Below is criteria used by CEESTEM to determine if an activity provides optimum opportunities for children to experiment and make new mental relationships.

Funded by an endowment from Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson, UNI's Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy (JCCL) works with Iowa schools to improve literacy for all Iowa students. The goals of the Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy are

  • To close the achievement gap between diverse groups, while increasing literacy proficiency for all students
  • To increase teachers' knowledge and instructional expertise through university supported professional development
  • To support teachers' collaborative monitoring of student progress and instructional decision-making

The Science Education Resource Center (SERC for short!) is a curriculum materials center for science for both UNI students and faculty and K-12 science teachers.  The SERC has print materials -  science tests, activity books, science standards, and pedagogy materials - as well as science kits for grades K- 8.  Print materials may be checked out just as from a library.  Science Kits can be reserved by AEA 267 teachers for classroom use and delivered directly to the schools.

UNI-CUE collaborates with other University departments and community programs to match its resources with community needs. Above all, the pursuit of excellence and distinction in all university programs and activities is critical to fulfilling the University's public responsibilities for the development of educated and productive Iowa citizens and for providing leadership and service.

Educational opportunity for minority and non-traditional students is a high priority. The UNI-CUE continues its longstanding tradition of recruiting, motivating, and encouraging students to pursue their career goals and aspirations.

The UNI-CUE facility supports several federally-funded TRiO programs: the Educational Opportunity Center; the Educational Talent Search program;and the Classic Upward Bound program.

The UNI-CUE fully embraces the concept of continuing and part-time education. Evening degree classes for college credit are offered from 4:00 to 8:20 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Courses continue to be expanded and offered during a time convenient for most nontraditional students.

UNI-CUE Tutoring Center:

The UNI-CUE Tutoring Center was created in 2009 as a result of a large number of phone calls from concerned parents who wanted and needed help for their children in regards to school work. Students are paired up with volunteer tutors who are predominantly UNI Education major students. The tutors are able to gain practice designing and implementing individualized lesson plans, as well as satisfaction in the efforts they have seen impact the students. It's a great way for Education majors to learned how to work one on one with students, while also adapting each student's learning style. 

UNI-CUE Summer Leadership Academy:

This program began in 2009, providing a four-week, academically rigorous summer program for 24 local students who will enter middle school in the fall. To be eligible, students are nominated by their 5th grade teachers as having the skills necessary to succeed, but, for whatever reason, not performing at a level required to reach those goals.  

The Leadership Academy program is designed to assist students to transition from elementary to  middle school, and provide them with the tools necessary to achieve success through middle school, high school, and beyond. It seeks to help students: 1) prepare for the rigors of middle school; 2) become well-rounded citizens by developing self-confidence and self-knowledge; and 3) improve their organizational skills.

Arctic Social and Environmental Systems lab’s mission is to develop collaboration among faculty, staff and students, who are engaged in research and educational activities pertaining to the Arctic, remote, and cold regions.

UNI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) helps children, youth, and adults make sense of complex environmental and energy-related issues while finding ways for the community to participate in positive, solution-oriented responses. The CEEE creates opportunities for UNI students and faculty to take leadership roles in creating more sustainable communities, and brings diverse stakeholders together to find common ground while working to solve problems. From know-how to do-now, the CEEE staff design community-oriented programs that focus on implementing what we already know. 


As the only entity in Iowa specifically devoted to geography education, the mission of the Geographic Alliance of Iowa (GAI) is to help ensure K-12 graduates are geographically literate citizens.  To achieve this mission, the GAI provides resources and expertise to improve the geographic literacy of Iowa students. With a particular focus on K-12 education, including pre-service teachers, the GAI provides exemplary professional development opportunities that follow accepted best practices and offers a clearinghouse of accessible, high quality, standards-based curricular materials. Informed by external stakeholders and grounded by educators in the field, the GAI will increase the number of school districts that provide stand-alone geography courses and to more systematically infuse geography skills, technology, knowledge, and concepts into literacy, STEM, history, and other content areas. The GAI will cultivate an active network of geography educators who will advance the organization’s vision by contributing innovative means for advancing geographic education and participating with similar networks in other states as well as national/international partners.


The GeoTREE Center continues to address the goal of supporting use of geospatial technologies in Iowa, while also actively supporting the effective use of these technologies by faculty, students, departments, and groups at UNI. The GeoTREE Center meets these stated goals by carrying out a range of activities based around the application of geospatial technologies to a range of environmental, social, economic, governmental, and other societal issues. This work can take the form of research, training, education, or extension activities. The GeoTREE Center has a successful history of high quality research in collaboration with a wide range of collaborators. During this research many undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to gain valuable educational and training experience. Staff at the GeoTREE Center have delivered training workshops to hundreds of FLST personnel in Iowa. The GeoTREE Center has also collaborated with state and local agencies to develop and disseminate unique geospatial data products as well as geospatial tools.

The ISGC is part of the NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, authorized by Congress in 1987. The ISGC was formed in 1990 by the three Regents' universities (Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa). Drake University joined as our fourth academic affiliate in July 1996.  The ISGC has 15 additional affiliates from government, industry and nonprofit organizations state-wide. The mission of the ISGC is to coordinate and improve Iowa's future in aerospace science and technology and to stimulate aerospace research, education and outreach activities throughout the state. These goals are carried out through partnerships with the Consortium's affiliates. The ISGC's work is organized into the program categories of  fellowships/scholarships, higher education, informal education, precollege, and research infrastructure.

The IWRC's primary focus is providing free, non-regulatory environmental technical assistance to Iowa's small businesses. IWRC environmental specialists are incredibly knowledgeable in topics ranging from stormwater to spray painting, and air emissions to environmental regulations. IWRC services are designed to assist Iowa small businesses understand the complexity of environmental regulations, waste reduction, and technologies.

The MCC links university research and resources to private sector applications. We offer a combination of practical hands-on experience, modern well-equipped facilities, and cutting edge technology and concepts to the casting industry. We offer services ranging from large-scale, long-term, pro-active initiatives to small-scale, responsive assistance on individualized inquiries. We educate students who are floor ready upon graduation.

The Materials Innovation Service, located in the Department of Industrial Technology at the University of Northern Iowa, is a joint program between the Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center, and the UNI Metal Casting Center. The UNI Metal Casting Center is a nationally recognized leader in foundry research, applied technology, and technical business assistance.

Through MIS, Iowa companies that are replacing mainstream materials with recycled material receive affordable materials testing and consultation.  MIS also provides technical assistance to manufacturers wishing to re-engineer or re-tool their operations to include recycled content, and in the development of innovative recycling/reuse process technologies that help turn waste into resources.

The Science center for Teaching, Outreach, and Research on Meteorology (the STORM Project) at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) is a cooperative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and UNI. 

The Project seeks to initiate, support, and coordinate education, service, and research activities that relate weather information and conceptual models of the atmosphere to relevant user communities in Iowa and the Midwest. STORM is developing programming in three areas:

Curriculum Development

Remote Sensing 

Meteorological Decision Support

The Tallgrass Prairie Center is a strong advocate of progressive, ecological approaches utilizing native vegetation to provide environmental, economic, and aesthetic benefits for the public good. The Center is in the vanguard of roadside vegetation management, native Source Identified seed development, and prairie advocacy. The Center primarily serves the Upper Midwest Tallgrass Prairie Region and is a model for similar efforts nationally and internationally.  

The Institute for Decision Making (IDM) is the economic development arm of UNI Business and Community Services. For over a quarter century, IDM has been delivering tailored, innovative community-wide planning, straightforward organizational planning, technical assistance, applied research, and training to Iowans concerned about their community’s economic vitality. IDM proudly serves over 700 communities, non-profits and economic development groups throughout Iowa and beyond.

The Center for Professional Readiness, located in CBB 5B, offers a wide range of resources to help students develop their professional skills.

Individualized Assistance

A staff of graduate students and peer counselors assists students with business writing and presentations, team communication and project management skills, professional relationships and conflict resolution, and personal time and work management skills.

Practice Facilities

Videotaping, conference, and meeting facilities along with trained coaching assistance facilitates practice in presentation skills, team interactions, interviewing, and conflict resolution.

Professional Development Opportunities

Center staff members coordinate closely with the UNI Career Center, International Programs, student organizations, and members of the College's Executive and Corporate Support Networks to locate professional development opportunities for UNIBusiness students.

Innovation Incubator

The new facility is designed to be a gateway between the private sector, the business community and the expertise of faculty and staff on campus. Featuring 13 beautiful office suites, the Innovation Incubator offers campus and community participants the following: a comprehensive array of market research services; technical business assistance and training; an advisory team made up of campus and business professionals; as well as office space, student support, and educational and networking opportunities for up to two years.

Each suite comes fully furnished and includes high speed Internet; utilities; part-time reception services; and access to state of the art business equipment, conference rooms and training facilities.

UNI Career Services focuses on student engagement and career readiness. This is done through a robust cooperative education program that includes internships and volunteering in the community where students can earn academic credit and gain important career ready experiences. In addition, its professional staff assist students with career decision making tools, resume development, interviewing skills, job search strategies, and overall career preparation. Career Services maintains active contacts with hundreds of employers, and provides students with up-to-date information about UNI career fairs, on-campus interviews and both employer related or graduate school related information sessions, programs and outreach opportunities.

UNI ScholarWorks

Are you interested in being more involved within the Cedar Valley? Would you like to make an impact and create a community engagement event, but don't know where to start? Visit UNI ScholarWorks under Community Engagement and see how other UNI faculty, staff, and students have been active within the Cedar Valley. Find inspiration for projects and communicate with those who have a similar passion and or vision. Please Visit UNI ScholarWorks  for more information. 

If you know of projects we could include in ScholarWorks, we encourage you to contact and share any materials you may have!