University of Minnesota


Hennepin County Government Center against a blue sky

Featured Collaborations

Capstone: Bridging the Workforce Gap

With the Minnesota Board on Aging as their client, a 2017 Summer Semester Humphrey School Capstone class explored employer attitudes toward older workers and analyzed how older workers may be utilized to offset a projected worker shortage. It was decided at the outset that Hennepin County managers would provide an excellent pool from which to sample opinions, given the breadth of County programs and interests. Three Humphrey graduate students collected data via a brief online survey of Hennepin County managers and also interviewed a subset of those managers. The project provided recommendations to both the Board on Aging and Hennepin County at its presentation to Hennepin County staff held at the Government Center on August 2, 2017. A couple key recommendations were: 1) To continue advocating for policies that support older workers at the state level 2) To continue research on older workers and their assets 3) To encourage 2-way mentoring between older and younger generations in the work place. Please click here to view the final report for this project.

My Voice, My Choice

Recipients of the 2015 HUP Mixer Grant, Hennepin County's Office to End Homelessness and the University's Department of Family Social Science conducted interviews with homeless youth to better understand their perspectives on education and employment and their recommendations for intervention. These youth face significant barriers to finishing school and obtaining gainful employment despite their commitment to career development. Results from the study will be used to inform Hennepin County’s future interventions and to ensure that these programs are well-received, accessible, and effective. Read the full report here.

Alternative to Corporate Foster Care

Recipients of the 2015 HUP Mixer Grant, the County's Health and Human Service Department, the Metropolitan Design Center, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and the Institute on Community Integration came together to address issues in adult corporate foster care. The project used design thinking to shift Hennepin County toward a person-centered delivery model that encourages creative ideas and innovative solutions. Key stakeholders, including both supported and frontline staff, took part in several workshops to help with problem definition and developing concepts for prototyping.

Capstone: Increasing Deconstruction in Hennepin


A Humphrey School of Public Affairs Capstone course worked with the Hennepin County Environment and Energy Department to conduct a study examining ways to increase the deconstruction (rather than demolition) of properties. Deconstruction is more expensive but saves money on landfill fees and encourages reuse. The class conducted a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the current deconstruction policies and practices, finding that although deconstruction is complex, it has the potential to be both economically and environmentally viable. Read the full report here.

Social Work Intern Instructor for Child Welfare Field Placement Lab

Hennepin County Human Services Department and the University's Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) implemented a "learning lab" field education model for Child Welfare Training Scholars. Scholars complete a 600 hour field placement in Hennepin County with social workers and supervisors across a variety of units. Melissa Mendez (University of Minnesota field instructor) and CASCW's Liz Snyder (Director of Professional Education) supervise the educational experience. Scholars receive additional field instruction and 1:1 supervision in this model, enhancing the child welfare experience. This collaboration was established by HSPHD in 2011 and has flourish with the commitment and collaboration between HSPHD's Janine Moore and CASCW's Traci LaLiberte. This partnership is currently funded through the summer of 2017.

Increasing Voter Registration

I voted

Hennepin County hired Graduate Research Assistant Claire Psarouthakis to collect and analyze data that would help determine strategies to increase voter registration. Claire, an MPP student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, worked with Election Division's Ginny Gelms to prepare a policy brief outlining her findings. You can read the full report here.

Exploring Spatial Mismatch

A study by Yingling Fan from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs found disadvantaged job seekers face a "spatial mismatch" between where they live and where the jobs they qualify for are located. Hennepin County, working through HUP, was a major funder of this ground-breaking research.

Transitway Impacts Research Program

The Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP) was launched in 2006 by the Hennepin–University Partnership. The program is designed to provide an objective analysis of data, public perceptions, and complex impacts resulting from investments in light-rail transit (LRT), commuter rail, and bus rapid transit (BRT). The research is unique in its breadth, scope, and ability to provide real-time analysis of the changes experienced when a region introduces high-quality transit service.

The research program has the following priorities:
• Economic and business impacts
• Housing market impacts
• Land-use impacts
• Land value impacts
• Neighborhood and social issues
• Traffic and parking impacts
• Environment and health issues

Find more information here.

Climate Change and Clean Energy Capstone

Hennepin County's Environmental Services Department worked with a class at the University's Law School on a capstone class titled "Climate Change and Clean Energy," supervised by Professor Hari Osofsky. The goal was to help the County explore options for expanding the distribution of the energy that is produced at its waste-to-energy facility, the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC). The HERC is located in downtown Minneapolis and burns 1,000 tons of garbage per day to generate energy. Students in this capstone gained practical experience on local efforts to foster climate change and clean energy while providing valuable information to the County on legal considerations associated with energy sales from the HERC facility.

Co-Parent Court Evaluation


Hennepin County's Co-Parent Court is a civil problem-solving court that was launched in 2010. Judge Bruce Peterson led the effort to establish the court to help unmarried parents.

From the beginning of the Co-Parent Court, Hennepin County knew that a rigorous evaluation would be important to the program's future. More than 20% of the Co-Parent Court's $450,000 annual budget was dedicated to the evaluation of the program, for a total of nearly $300,000 over the evaluation. Over the last three years, Dr. Mary Marczak (Extension School), Associate Dean Karen Shirer (Extension School), and Dr. Shonda Craft (Department of Family and Social Science) have worked on an evaluation of the program. The three-year evaluation period has ended and some of the result were recently released. Their findings were promising: fathers completing the program are paying an average of 86% of child support owed, while fathers in the control group pay 69% of their child support. Mothers report that on average, fathers completing the program spend about 58 more hours with their children each month. Learn more about the Co-Parent Court

Horticulture, Turf Grass Management and Pesticide Certification Training

Sentencing to Service

Sentencing to Service (STS) is a structured work program that provides a sentencing alternative for low-risk adult and juvenile offenders. Instead of serving time in jail or paying a fine, offenders can work, learn new skills, and gain self-confidence while completing community improvement and restoration projects. Learn more about STS in this short video.

The University of Minnesota's Extension School provides a training course for Hennepin County Sentencing to Service (STS) Crew Leaders. The Extension course includes information about plant selection, landscape implementation and maintenance, turf grass science and management, and a pesticide certification preparation and exam. In 2014, Hennepin County sent approximately 20 STS Crew leaders to training, and plans to send between 10-15 staff members to horticulture training this year. This collaboration provides technical training and certification to STS Crew Leaders while allowing the University to educate citizens on science and researched-based best practices relevant to their jobs.

Hennepin Library’s Stop, Look, Art! Project

Library art

During the summer of 2014, the Hennepin County Library hired a Ph.D. candidate from the Art History Department to review artwork in each of the Libraries for the Stop, Look, Art! project. The art historian researched 115 library-owned art pieces and produced brief descriptions for each piece. The existing information was incomplete or, in some cases, unverified. The Library plans to use the descriptions generated to update its website and enhance in-building displays.

Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Study

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is collaborating with the Extension School to replicate a federally-funded Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) study. The purpose of the study is to collect data on drug use and related behaviors among adults booked in jail. The study involves a survey that includes questions about drug use, treatment, age of first arrest, employment and housing history, and drug market activity. A team of researchers led by Professor Mary Marczak from University Extension interviewed and completed drug testing on a random sample of males booked into the Adult Detention Center over a period of two weeks. The researchers analyzed the data collected, which the Sheriff’s Office plans to use to inform decisions about programming and the need for services.

Exploring Alternative Food Assistance Strategies in Hennepin County


Professor Jaimie Stang, Professor Chrisa Arcan and Professor Susie Nanney, with the help of a graduate student from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health collaborated with the Human Services and Public Health Department to evaluate current food shelves policies and practices. The project is utilizing largely qualitative data to determine promising strategies for the provision of food assistance to Hennepin County residents. The researchers interviewed food shelf users and eligible non-users, community leaders and food assistance program directors to determine strengths and weaknesses of the current system. They are using both local and national data to identify potential alternative methods that would minimize the current weaknesses and build upon strengths.

Be@School Program Evaluation with Hennepin County Attorney's Office


The Hennepin County Attorney's Office has launched the be@school program which is intended to increase school attendance and improve community connections across Hennepin County through a coordinated early intervention effort that provides educational and support services to school-age children and their families. It is estimated that thousands of children in Hennepin County have far too many unexcused absences from school. Professor Tim Sheldon and Martha Daugherty from the College of Education and Human Development and the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement collaborated to carry out an evaluation of the program. Findings suggest that the be@school program is substantially reducing the number of unexcused absences among program participants.

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