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Dillahunt named Outstanding Partner

Monday, 10/19/2020

University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) Associate Professor Tawanna Dillahunt will be honored with the Eastside Community Network (ECN) Outstanding Partner Award at the organization’s annual Eastside Extravaganza on Thursday, Oct. 22.

ECN interim development officer Camille Johnson says the members of the advocacy organization have “long admired” Dillahunt and her work. The Outstanding Partner Award, Johnson says, “honors a community leader or organization that exemplifies a selfless commitment to the betterment of Eastside residents, businesses and our children.”

“I’m overjoyed to receive the Outstanding Partner Award,” says Dillahunt. “I’m especially grateful because it shows the impact of engaging in community-based participatory research and the ways in which collaborative research can be mutually beneficial. 

Since 2016, a group of UMSI faculty and students led by Dillahunt, Associate Professor Joyojeet Pal and Professor Kentaro Toyama has been working with ECN to help Eastside residents develop the technical skills needed to become entrepreneurs. Projects have included the Detroit Neighborhood Tours Collective, and a “bring your own device” hands-on tech training for cell phones and laptops.

Dillahunt received a Community-Based Participatory Research award from Poverty Solutions to assess ECN’s community-based mentorship program and understand opportunities for technology to support mentorship in the community.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Assistant Professor Julie Hui and Dillahunt have provided Zoom training to ECN staff so that they could teach their community members how to stay connected during the pandemic. Associate Dean for Faculty Tiffany Veinot, Associate Professor Laurie Buis and Dillahunt also received an NSF RAPID grant to assess the unique challenges faced by low-income people with limited access to digital technology when receiving healthcare amid COVID-19.

“Although I’m accepting this award, it’s really a testimony to the amazing ECN leadership, staff, and community members; our remarkable students at SI; my exceptional colleagues Julie Hui and Kentaro Toyama; and the tremendous support we've received from the rest of the faculty and staff at the School of Information,” says Dillahunt. ”It’s a true honor.”

Eastside Community Network develops people, places and plans for sustainable neighborhood growth on Detroit's Eastside. The organization's Eastside Extravaganza brings together Detroit’s corporate and political elite with Eastside Detroit block club leaders, small business owners and residents to raise funds for the organization’s programs and initiatives. This year’s event will be streamed virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live.

- Jessica Webster, UMSI PR Specialist