Extension Block Grants Fund Applied Research and Outreach

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016-2018 Extension Block Grants! To support and deepen the integration between University of Minnesota Extension and the College of Design, Extension funds these two-year grants for projects that collaboratively contribute to its applied research goals.

The following College of Design proposals were selected for funding for the next two years:


Designing Learning Environments to Foster Academic Success and Well-Being: A Partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School

Project Lead:  Abimbola Asojo (Interior Design)

Over the past year, our Interior Design program and the University Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium have been working in partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul to create environments that foster student learning and well-being. This ongoing work to support the mental health of students has resulted in the creation of several learning environments, including a calming room. With this funding, Asojo and her team—comprised of interdisciplinary researchers, educators, and professionals from the University and St. Paul Public Schools—will turn their attention to the school’s cafeteria. The current cafeteria is loud and institutional, which can trigger disruptive behavior, especially for students with behavioral challenges. The team will redesign, implement, and test their cafeteria design to more effectively meet the students’ learning needs.


Developing the Joint Retail Assistance Program in Rural Minnesota: Community, Extension, and Design

Project Lead: Hye-Young Kim (Retail Merchandising)

This two-year project will develop a joint retail assistance program by the University Extension Center for Community Vitality and our Retail Merchandising program. The project team of Hye-Young Kim (Retail Merchandising), Hyunjoo Im (Retail Merchandising), and Neil Lindscheid (Extension) will develop customized technical assistance programs, design workshops and educational events in rural retail communities, and provide tailored market analysis for small retailers in rural Minnesota.


Impact of an East African Mother-Daughter Physical Activity Program and Co-Designed Activewear

Project Lead: Elizabeth Bye (Apparel Design)

Very few mother-daughter physical activity interventions, which have been found to increase physical activity attitudes and behaviors, have included East African mother-daughter teams. Bye will work with researchers and educators from the University of Minnesota’s School of Kinesiology, the Cedar-Riverside Community School, and University Extension to increase physical activity opportunities through healthy living education and the co-design of culturally sensitive activewear to uphold cultural and religious values of privacy and modesty. This program will include physical, nutritional, and creative design activities. Additionally, participants will play a hands-on role in constructing the activewear.


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