UNCG’s Institute for Community and Economic Engagement (ICEE) announced today that it has signed a software licensing agreement with NobleHour.com, LLC to develop the next version of the Community Engagement Collaboratory, a web-based software application that tracks partnership and public-service activities between universities and communities. The Collaboratory will facilitate measurement of activities, identify patterns of engagement, and provide ongoing data collection to convene people and resources around important community priorities.

“We created the software system to satisfy UNCG needs – to know who is doing what where when and with whom for what purposes – but sought a commercial partner to help us get it onto a shareable platform because of the many requests we received from colleagues across the U.S. and world who had seen our tool and asked us to share it with them,” said Emily Janke, director of ICEE. “They saw our unique ability to keep track of and get the word out about hundreds of activities and relationships for planning, research and recognition purposes.”

Janke and Kristin Medlin, ICEE communications and partnerships manager, along with ICEE senior scholar Barbara Holland, are co-inventors of The Collaboratory, which uses a web-facing database to create a portrait of community engagement and public service.

“Understanding the portrait of an institution’s engagement with communities is essential for schools, institutions of higher education and communities to move from accidental, coincidental or random service activities of individuals to intentional and coordinated agendas of institutions with their communities,” Holland said. “This tool will allow us to work more systematically to effect significant and positive changes in our communities.”

UNCG will serve as the home for the Collaboratory Research Program that will facilitate “big data” types of scholarship on community engagement and public service. “We chose to collaborate with NobleHour because of their great reputation,” Medlin said. “We knew that they could provide ongoing, secure and high-quality services, which is critical to our larger goal of transforming the practice, scholarship and outcomes of community engagement, here in the region, but also statewide, nationally and internationally.”

NobleHour Managing Partner Scott Fore said, “NobleHour is honored to share its core vision with quality educational leaders such as UNCG. In an attempt to enable valuable strategic partnerships, NobleHour will endeavor to create and sustain an international repository dedicated to research that furthers community engagement, professional development and student learning.”

Based out of Lakeland, Fla., and with a nationwide staff, NobleHour provides web-based software that helps organizations manage service-learning, intern, employee, volunteer and community-service initiatives. NobleHour.com offers hour tracking, opportunity and event listings, and hour reporting tools that are used by notable school districts and higher education institutions such as Guilford County Schools, George Washington University and UC San Diego. NobleHour, created by a student in 2005, grew from a simple online database of service-learning opportunities to a strong presence with more than 125,000 users and more than 4,500 organizations with thousands of opportunity listings. Since January of 2012, NobleHour users have tracked more than 3 million service hours, with an economic impact of more than $73 million.

The current version of The Collaboratory is viewable online at http://communityengagement.uncg.edu, and contains information on more than 250 ongoing or completed community-university projects. A commercial version of the Community Engagement Collaboratory is expected to be available for purchase in late 2014. More information can be found at www.CEcollaboratory.com.

For more information, please contact Kristin Medlin, communications and partnerships manager, at (336) 334-4661 or kdbuchne@uncg.edu.

ICEE encourages, supports, elevates and amplifies faculty, staff, student and community colleagues from across all sectors who are involved in teaching, learning, research, creative activity and service in ways that promote strategic goals of UNCG and address pressing issues with important implications to communities across the Piedmont Triad, state, nation and world.