Community Connections

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Launched in 2013, Experience UGA brings students from the Clarke County School District to campus for hands-on learning experiences that expose them to learning in a university setting.

The University of Georgia is inextricably linked with Athens-Clarke County, where students, faculty and staff dedicate their talents to making a positive impact on our community.

Many of the nearly 250 service-learning courses offered by our faculty focus on improving health and quality of life in Athens. To give one notable example, more than 25 courses from departments such as geography, social work and foods and nutrition have partnered with the Campus Kitchen Project. Through Campus Kitchen, students transform unused food from dining halls, grocery stores, restaurants and farmers markets into meals that are delivered to agencies that serve Athenians in need. Since the program was founded five years ago, more than 157,000 pounds of food have been recovered and transformed into nearly 51,000 nutritious meals.

The University also has several robust partnerships with the Clarke County School District, including Camp DIVE (Discover, Inquire, Voice and Explore). Now in its second year, this innovative summer camp is led by faculty and students from the College of Education and Clarke County teachers. It provides engaging and enriching summer learning experiences for students in kindergarten through eighth grade at no cost to parents and this year served more than 90 students. In addition, the Experience UGA partnership brings K-12 students enrolled in the Clarke County School District to campus for field trips that provide hands-on learning experiences while helping foster interest in higher education.

Our research enterprise supports the Athens economy by nurturing startup companies based on the inventions of our faculty and staff. Nearly 20 companies are currently housed in UGA’s Innovation Gateway incubator, which provides space, advice and expertise to help young technology-based companies thrive. Resident companies include Molecular Therapeutics, which provides antimicrobial products, environmental remediation company MuniRem, and several vaccine development companies.

Our Public Service and Outreach units are committed to the prosperity of the Athens community, as well. UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development has partnered with Goodwill of North Georgia on a program known as Goodbiz, which combines Goodwill’s entrepreneurial training with leadership training from the Fanning Institute. Goodbiz serves Athens-Clarke County residents from disadvantaged backgrounds and has helped 15 people launch or prepare to launch businesses. One of the University’s 17 Small Business Development Center offices is housed in Athens, as well, and it provides a range of educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The University’s annual economic impact on the Athens area is $1.2 billion. Our extension agents served more than 20,000 Athenians in the past year alone, 1,000 youth from Athens participated in 4H programs, and more than 13,000 UGA alumni reside in Athens-Clarke County. The University of Georgia has never been more committed to the future of Athens-Clarke County, and we value our relationship with the community we call home.