In the more than 20 years that Susan Colbert has worked in the Weinland Park neighborhood directly east of Ohio State’s Columbus campus, the area has transformed from a distressed, low-income neighborhood with one of the highest violent crime rates in Columbus into a mixed-income neighborhood that has experienced its first population increase in almost 70 years.
Additionally, the neighborhood is no longer a “hot spot” for infant mortality, and Weinland Park Elementary School has been removed from “priority” status by the state.
As the Franklin County Expansion and Engagement program director with OSU Extension’s community development program, Colbert has been directly involved in much of those positive changes.
Working with the Weinland Park Collaborative (WPC) since its inception in 2010, Colbert and her staff of four have “worked in the trenches” with their office based directly in the heart of the community. They have built trust and partnerships with neighborhood residents and with the more than dozen civic organizations, nonprofit agencies, and foundations that compose the WPC.
Here are some of the programs CFAES offers in the Weinland Park community:
The Columbus affiliate of the Urban Land Institute recently presented its 2019 Community Impact Award to the WPC for the success in Weinland Park. OSU Extension’s work was a key to this success.
“We truly believe in our land-grant mission of bringing the resources of the university into the community,” Colbert said. “Our work in Weinland Park is a prime example of how CFAES works with people and families to help them transform the community by taking a holistic approach to bring the resources of CFAES to bear.”
“Having our office in the heart of the community and listening directly to their needs has truly made the difference in our being able to assess their situation and take on a more community asset-based approach.”
Steve Sterrett, the former community relations director for Campus Partners and now a consultant with WPC, has worked with Colbert for more than 20 years.
“Susan and Extension’s long-term commitment to be in Weinland Park has allowed real relationships of trust to grow and has created real engagement with the people who live and work in the neighborhood,” Sterrett said. “That’s important because changes don’t occur overnight. When people see the partnerships working to continue improving and beautifying the neighborhood, that makes all the difference in the world.”