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Charlottesville Institute Strives to Link City and UVA

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A new non-profit in Charlottesville is committing itself to overcoming the city's biggest social challenges by connecting neighbors with resources at the University of Virginia. The hope is to use UVA academics to help solve some of the city's most pressing problems.

The Charlottesville Institute was founded by councilor Dave Norris in January 2012. The organization aims to tap into resources and studies at UVA and bring that to parts of the city in need of certain services. That means pulling ideas and programs from university students and staff to areas of Charlottesville.

It's a collaboration Norris says is a natural partnership that just needs to be pushed forward.

"This is an effort by some of us in the community to step up and say, let's identify ways, let's identify needs and opportunities in the community that we can get the university's help on," said Norris.

The Charlottesville Institute's top priorities will be pointing out economic opportunities, as well as improving the city's natural environments. However, Norris says the sky is the limit when it comes to harnessing university resources and using them to tackle serious social challenges.

Norris admits the group is partially the result of personal career aspirations. He was looking for a way to combine his civic interests with area politics, and to him, this seemed like a venture that would benefit all sides while tapping into those interests.

Norris hosted a launch party for the Charlottesville Institute on April 18 at Feast! on West Main Street.  Over the next 30 days they're trying to raise $25,000 from the community to help secure grants and keep the institute up and running for the rest of the year. Click here for more details.