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University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
Community Assistantship Program (CAP)

CURA’s Community Assistantship Program (CAP) matches community-based nonprofit organizations, citizen groups, and government agencies in Greater Minnesota with students who can provide research assistance. Eligible organizations define a research project, submit an application, and, if accepted, are matched with a qualified student to carry out the research. CAP provides approximately 200 hours of student time (260 hours during summer) to work on a project defined by the community. This is a competitive program and not all projects are guaranteed funding. Successful projects typically have a clear product that will be used to achieve an organizational goal. CAP projects endorsed by a local Minnesota Initiative Foundation can be filled with a student from the University of Minnesota or any institution that is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. You can search the CURA Project Database for examples of successful CAP projects.  We have also provided a few examples below.

Application process and steps

Proposals are due by the following dates for assistance during the time periods indicated:

  • March 15 (Summer semester assistance—early June through August)
  • June 30 (Fall semester assistance—early September to mid-January)
  • October 30 (Spring semester assistance—mid-January through May)

Step 1
Complete a CURA Community-Based Research Programs Application Form for each research project you would like assistance with. Complete our application form here.  Submit applications via e-mail to:

The CURA Community-Based Research Program staff can help you with your application. You are strongly encouraged to contact the programs director to discuss potential projects prior to submitting your application:

 CAP—Will Craig, 612-625-3321,, or Jeff Corn, 612-625-0744,


Step 2

Your application will be reviewed by a committee from the appropriate CURA program. You will be notified as soon as possible of the committee’s decision regarding your application.


Step 3

If approved, a job description is developed by CURA, approved by the community organization, and posted online for students to see.


Step 4 

Students apply directly to the community organization.


Step 5

The community organization chooses interview candidates from among those students who apply for the position. The organization is responsible for scheduling and conducting interviews, and selecting the candidate of its choice.



Project Examples


Measuring the Return on Investment for Participant outcomes in 3 Community Action Duluth employment programs
Community Action Duluth (CAD) focuses on high impact initiatives that assist individuals and families to reduce their isolation, acquire assets and develop healthy relationships that support their transition out of poverty. CAD’s employment programs assist individuals and families in obtaining financial self-sufficiency by offering advocacy and assistance in overcoming barriers to employment. Nikhil Acharya, an MBA graduate student at the Duluth campus, compared the value of the decreased use of public assistance and the increase in earned income of participants to the actual cost of providing the services. The results are being used to improve the program for future participants and show cost effectiveness to funders.


Two Harbors Band Shell Park Upgrade: Evaluation and Design of Structure.

The Two Harbors city band is one of the oldest band in the state of Minnesota (Gregor & Saur, 2012). It has played a vital role of entertaining the Two Harbors community as well as tourists for nearly 115 years. The construction of the Paul Gauche Memorial Band Shell in 1937, coupled with the dedication of band members has over the years contributed rich music production (Friends of the Band Shell Park, 2012). However, the Band Shell is now over 70 years, and this is telling on its current physical structure. The current condition of the band shell has led to the formation of “Friends of the Band Shell Park,” a committee with the aim to explore long-term options to enhance the Thomas Owens Park and the Band Shell. The purpose of the Two Harbors Band Shell Project is to improve the city band shell by upgrading or replacing it. The first phase of the project is to hire an architectural/engineering company to assess the existing Band Shell and come up with a plan for construction. The next phase will be fundraising, leading to the final phase of reconstruction of the band Shell.


Integrating Site Design into Conservation Corps Minnesota Projects
Conservation Corps Minnesota is a nonprofit that provides outdoor service-learning, job-training and personal development opportunities for young people, ages 15 to 25. The Center for Changing Landscapes (CLL), College of Design is working in partnership with the Corps to incorporate more design-build projects in Summer Youth Corps service. In 2011, a youth crew participated in a Blandin Foundation project to improve public access and enjoyment of a county park in the Upper Minnesota River Valley by landscaping and improving trails and building park benches, a canoe landing and a picnic shelter, designed by CCL. Elissa Brown, a Master of Landscape Architecture graduate student in the College of Design, will evaluate the effectiveness of youth carrying out design-build plans, their skill levels, and resources needed to build more projects designed by CCL. The results will be used to inform future budgets, staffing and resources needed for Conservation Corps design-build projects.




The inclusion of any organization or person in the contact information we provide does not constitute a representation, warranty, or endorsement with respect to the competence, suitability, or reliability of such organization or person by University of Minnesota Duluth or the Office of Civic Engagement, nor does the Office of Civic Engagement sponsor or endorse any third-party web site.

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Last modified on 05/28/13 01:39 PM
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