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The UniverCity Alliance is not, in fact, Madison’s local branch of the Rebel Alliance. But it is a revolutionary program that connects UW–Madison’s researchers and students with cities and counties throughout Wisconsin to solve community issues. How does it work? Local government leaders apply to be a part of the UniverCity Year (UCY) program, naming specific problems they’d like to address in the vein of sustainability, housing, education, social services, health care, and more. If accepted into the program, UW partners and young Badger padawans get assigned to these communities for a period of three years to help them tackle the area of concern. For example, Badgers are supporting efforts to help Polk County promote opportunities that will sustain and attract residents to the area. During the fall 2022 semester, journalism students developed new branding tools for the county, while urban and regional planning graduate students completed a comprehensive analysis of the area to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Between 2016 and 2022, UCY partnered with 20 counties, cities, towns, and villages. In 2023, the program accepted a record-setting cohort of nine communities spread across the state, including the village of Cottage Grove, the city of Wausau, and St. Croix County. The UniverCity Alliance, and its reliance on the Wisconsin Idea, prove that Badgers are a force to be reckoned with. 

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