Grassroots Community Engagement
The Ford Program promotes a holistic model for human development. We partner with local institutions to better understand the complex and interrelated issues affecting the development process—and together turn that knowledge into action.
We also work with local communities to integrate lessons from research into the design and implementation of innovative solutions that expand opportunities for people burdened by poverty. In engaging with our partners in developing settings, we recognize that local leadership must drive project planning and implementation, and that community ownership is the cornerstone of sustainability.
With programs in Uganda and Kenya, we are working in partnership with universities and local communities to make a positive, measurable, and sustainable difference in people’s lives. We design community development projects, research efforts, and learning opportunities in dialogue with local people to ensure they address their community’s priorities and challenges.
Through the Ford Program, the University of Notre Dame has partnered with Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) to advance the study and practice of human development by engaging with a local community facing a variety of complex challenges. The collaboration aims to build solidarity, alleviate human suffering, and make a positive, measurable, and sustainable difference in people’s lives.
Notre Dame and UMU have established a community partnership with Nnindye Parish, a cluster of rural villages in Mpigi District near the UMU campus. With other local, national, and international partners, the universities are working with Nnindye residents to find creative and sustainable solutions to their development challenges.
As a first step, Nnindye has undertaken a mobilization and action planning process led by local leaders. Together, residents have identified progressive goals for education, health, livelihoods, and infrastructure. Current projects include creating community demonstration gardens, strengthening of village health teams, and improving access to safe water and sanitation in Nnindye.
Facilitated by the Ford Program, Notre Dame and UMU have the opportunity in Nnindye to create a new model for university-led partnerships that promote integral human development.
The Ford Program is seeking ways to address urban poverty by engaging with the people of Dandora, a sprawling section of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This new initiative draws on the experience of the priests and brothers of Holy Cross, who have worked in Dandora for more than 30 years. The collaboration aims to build solidarity, alleviate human suffering, and make a positive, measurable, and sustainable difference in people’s lives.
Established in 1977 east of the city center, Dandora includes informal housing—built with temporary materials and no access to running water or electricity—and permanent structures where most residents rent one or two rooms in multistory buildings. More than 200,000 people live in Dandora, an area about the size of the Notre Dame campus.
The Ford Program is partnering with Holy Cross Parish, which sponsors the area’s busiest medical clinic and a large primary school. We are also looking to partner with the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).
Following the framework of the Ford Program’s initial project in Uganda, the Dandora initiative will integrate teaching, research, and grassroots community engagement.