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Community Revitalization

Through outreach, service learning, and applied research, the faculty and students of the MPA program work with communities in a variety of revitalization efforts. This section provides some highlights of these activities.

Fostering Fairmont

Through the Area of Emphasis in Local Governance and Community Development, the faculty and students of the MPA program are working in Fairmont with the Westside Action Coalition (WAC) to foster community organizing and revitalization efforts. 


Members of the Fairmont Community Youth Development Center, the Dunbar School Foundation, and the Marion County chapter of the NAACP established the WAC to work together and with other community partners, including Main Street Fairmont and the Fairmont Community Development Partnership. The WVU team will be supporting their efforts for two years, between Fall 2015 and Spring 2017.

Members of the Fairmont community, including local pastors, Fairmont City Council Members, Fairmont City Police Officers, WVU students, and many more came together with a common goal: to better develop their youth and their community.

The Westside Action Coalition held a stakeholders meeting Saturday morning, where about 100 community members and leaders gathered to discuss how to revitalize the neighborhoods.

“Once we come together and figure out what the common mission and goal is, then we’re able to make it safe and give resources to our children, the things they want and need, that way they can be productive adults in society,” said Diamond Brown, a board member with the Fairmont Community Youth Development Center.

For one Fairmont mother, she hopes to create a place where children can be positive and productive throughout the community.

“If we had a space where we can do more then I know that we can just create a great generation of children,” Vanessa Bryant said.

WVU students teamed up with the Westside Action Coalition to research the needs of the community and design a plan to better serve the neighborhoods, a project known as Fostering Fairmont.

“We’ve been able to really provide a good resource for the community just to have a case study for them to look and see, on paper, the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. So it shows where the need is, and it really has acted as a good resource now to gather the community members,” said WVU Center for Service and Learning employee, Leah Cunningham.

Various groups have joined the coalition, including Fairmont Community Youth Development Center, West Side Robotics, Marion County NAACP, Dunbar School Foundation and Neighborhood Churches.

“Were hoping that within the next year there will be a big huge difference in the community, financially, seeing the residents prosper, educational wise with the kids. You wont be able to walk in here and say you saw the same community that you saw a year ago,” Brown added.

The coalition plans to gain the support of community stakeholders and build unity throughout Fairmont.

WBOY News on Westide-Action Group

Revitalizing Ravenswood

Starting in Fall 2013 Ravenswood, WV hosted a two-year, four-semester project led by Dr. Margaret Stout and MPA graduate students at West Virginia University. The four-step process included governance capacity building, mobilizing & dialogue, planning & deliberation that will culminate in a Comprehensive Plan for the city, followed by project development and implementation to leave the community in action. In Spring 2015, students in PUBA 755 Sustainable Community Development, PUBA 720 Public Budgeting, and PUBA 700 Capstone Seminar developed implementation plans and budgets for prioritized revitalization projects. The projects included:

  • Paddler’s Landing (historic Ferry dock site conversion)
  • Council Bluff Park (George Washington’s campsite with Native Americans)
  • First Frontier Welcome Center (historic Lock Master’s House restoration and adaptive reuse)
  • Sandy Creek Marina (two-phase redevelopment and relocation of the wastewater treatment facility)