Recent decades have seen an increased involvement of institutions of higher education in their communities. Previous scholarship on community engaged scholarship and anchor institutions often fails to consider race, racism, and racial power dynamics. We analyze interviews with the program director of a critical community engaged scholarship initiative as part of a multi-year community-led collaboration between an urban, historically White institution and its adjacent community using the critical race theory tenet of interest convergence and critical literacy. We find that the university's relationship with the local community is troubling to residents, especially frequent student projects and university-initiated neighborhood safety initiatives. We also find that the university became interested in partnership when there were clear financial incentives and maintained significant logistical hurdles that hindered an equitable partnership. These tensions between the community and university highlight the university’s desires to conduct research and build prestige as self-interested acts, negatively impacting the community-university relationship and partnership. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of race in research on anchor institutions and community engaged scholarship. We offer critical literacy as a framework for universities to establish more equitable interactions, both in community-university relationships and in scholarly partnerships.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.