Civic Collaboration spotlight: City of Albuquerque hosts tech fair designed by Morehead-Cain Scholars, with a focus on accessibility

News & Spotlights | May 26, 2022
2021 Albuquerque Civic Collaboration team, from left to right: Luis Sanchez ’24, Avni Bannuru ’24, Caroline Furrier ’24, Parker Prysiazniuk ’24, and Vivian Deng ’24.

The City of Albuquerque, a 2021 Civic Collaboration partner, hosted a tech fair this spring to help increase digital literacy among the 50+ population. The event was first organized the previous summer by a group of rising second-year Morehead-Cain Scholars.

The team of five students was tasked by Albuquerque’s Office of the Mayor to research the online user experiences of older Americans in accessing services provided by local government.

The group was responsible for launching the office’s first “50+ Senior Tech Connect” event, from planning to execution, according to Liz Kistin Keller ’04. The alumna, who is the first lady of Albuquerque (her husband, Tim Keller, has been mayor since 2017), oversaw the team’s work.

“The scholars worked diligently to understand the breadth of our community’s needs, and to prototype and test an innovative and engaging event that could be scaled and replicated by the city and its community partners,” said Keller, who shared her experiences as a Civic Collaboration host via Morehead-Cain’s Catalyze podcast. “This year’s event is a wonderful example of the enduring impact the Civic Collaboration program has had in Albuquerque.”

The 2022 fair was hosted on April 1 through the city’s department of senior affairs.

Bringing an outside, multidisciplinary perspective

As the second Morehead-Cain Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) experience, the Civic Collaboration program sends small groups of scholars to cities throughout North America for eight weeks. Each team is given a “dilemma” by host partners to focus on for the duration of the summer.

Working on such a broad topic as accessibility on behalf of the City of Albuquerque was a “blessing in disguise,” team member Avni Bannuru ’24 said, because it gave them the freedom to learn about the many aspects of city government, build relationships, and create solutions.

“Even though it took a lot of effort on our part to get our bearings, identify the problem, contact people, and plan an event, I believe that having as much independence as we did resulted in our deliverables being genuinely impactful, replicable, and sustainable,” the scholar said.

In addition to Bannuru, the 2021 Civic Collaboration team included Vivian Deng ’24, Caroline Furrier ’24, Parker Prysiazniuk ’24, and Luis Sanchez ’24. Learn more about last year’s projects.

There are fifteen teams participating in the 2022 Civic Collaboration program. Projects will focus on topics ranging from improving systems for grant-making and addressing affordable housing, to equitable economic development.

Becoming a Civic Collaboration host for Morehead-Cain

Hosts propose a dilemma or issue for scholars to address together, provide the scholars with guidance and mentorship, and share information and resources pertinent to the projects. The Morehead-Cain Scholarship provides each scholar with a cost-of-living stipend and transportation to and from the host city (hosts are not expected to provide financial assistance to scholars).

To learn more about partnering with Morehead-Cain for future Civic Collaboration projects, contact Montez Thomas or visit our website.

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