In 2002, the Community Partnership in Action Initiative (CPIA) was established through the efforts of Bryn Mawr College and the Interagency Council of Norristown. Since its inception CPIA has sought to connect faculty, student scholarship, educational field placements and volunteer services with the Norristown community. Bryn Mawr’s undergraduate school through the commitment of the Civic Engagement Office and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research have sought to build relationships among the Norristown and Bryn Mawr communities that facilitate a reciprocal sharing of resources and assets.
In 2005, the Civic Engagement Office received a grant from the Pennsylvania Campus Compact (PACC) AmeriCorps program. The three-year AmeriCorps grant provided the CEO with a full-time VISTA member who focused their work and service around the CPIA initiative and increasing knowledge of CPIA and the Norristown community on Bryn Mawr’s campus. Three VISTA members, Nadira Branch (2005-06), Michael Norton (2006-07) and Ruth Strickland (2007-08), worked to develop undergraduate student involvement, increasing volunteer opportunities in connection to the Norristown community and assisting in the assessment and furthering of undergraduate CPIA programs. The VISTA members were integral in supporting a student coordinator team and developing a leadership model to ensure sustainability of the program.