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Community Engagement & Impact

Engage Magazine Cover

ENGAGE Magazine

The inaugural magazine for Community Engagement and Impact is now available! Explore how CEI is collaborating across campus and our community to lead impactful programs and initiatives, while also inviting the Wilmington community on campus to engage in our resources and talented people. Have you a story you'd like to see featured? Contact

Community Engagement Highlights

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington was founded in 1947 as Wilmington College. Born of the desire of local citizens to have an institution of higher education that was responsive to the needs of the Southeastern North Carolina region, six subsequent decades of growth have elevated UNCW to membership in the UNC system and current status as North Carolina’s coastal university. Throughout its institutional life, UNCW has remained steadfastly committed to its original community-oriented purpose through engagement in health, education, the economy, the environment, marine, and coastal issues, and the arts. We believe these efforts help to Change the TIDES in our region.

UNCW is embarking on an initiative to continue to change the TIDES in southeastern North Carolina. UNCW’s Change the TIDES initiative is a university and community collaboration for the greater good.

The acronym TIDES stands for Talent, Innovation, Development, Engagement, and Social Impact. Change the TIDES will utilize the resources of UNCW to improve the quality of life, health, education, and employment for the people of our region and their communities. We’re committed to the greater good and will use resources from all corners of the university and work with our partners to continue to change the TIDES.

Related Stories

For several years, faculty, staff, and community members have considered ways to explore and examine
the racial history of Wilmington, North Carolina, particularly the reconstruction period and the coup
d'état of 1898. Prior efforts had been confined to a few disparate classes and community events, none
of which represented a cohesive and collective regional effort to integrate this history in
interdisciplinary ways. Believing that our university, as a state institution, connects teaching, learning,
and civic process, we applied for and received a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation in 2020 to
design a program that would find innovative approaches to integrate the study of the foundations of
democracy into the undergraduate experience. Our hope has always been to connect those democratic
principles in a tangible and compelling way to our students’ lived experiences and the future they are
building. We sought a grant to investigate the aforementioned events alongside the democratic
principles that live in our founding documents. This proposal details the outcomes of that planning grant
and proposes to move forward with an implementation plan that will help execute the ideas generated
through the planning process.

Our purpose is to investigate pivotal moments in our local history – the reconstruction period,
Wilmington’s 1898 Coup, and its many complex parts – as a portal into the fragility, resilience, and
promise of democracy. This program aims to deeply engage students on the foundations of our
democratic system while avoiding the creation of “flashpoints” that can encourage divisive rhetoric and
undermine productive discourse. Through the successful implementation of this program, we will
prepare students to become informed and engaged participants in the democratic practice of their local
and national communities and help them develop an understanding of both the complex history and
inherent fragility of democracy. We call this program the Fragility, Resilience, and Engaged Education in
Democracy (FREED) Project.

Wings Up for Wilmington is a day of service in which UNCW faculty, staff, and students to assist local organizations with their various community service projects. Projects include gardening, painting, organizing, cleaning, delivering, and more, and can be with area nonprofits, organizations, and schools in New Hanover County.

Held each September as a way for UNCW Seahawks to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Florence, Wings Up for Wilmington 2022 will takes place this upcoming September 16, 2023. 

More information will be posted soon! 

Office of Community Engagement

680 S. College Road
Truist Hall
Wilmington, NC 28403-5900