The Organization and Our Mission

The Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities – Network (EPIC-N) is a nonprofit association of members all over the world. Our organization and member programs unite the human capital of universities with local governments and communities to improve the quality of life and social wealth for all involved.

We do so by supporting the application of The EPIC Model.

The EPIC Model

  1. Respects Existing administrative structures/individual responsibilities and incentives on all sides
  2. Creates a genuine Partnership with local governments (or community organizations)
  3. Intentionally aims at improving community quality of life
  4. Focuses on Community-identified, -driven, and -evaluated contribution to the community
  5. Catalyzes multi-disciplines and large Numbers (of courses, students, hours)

Learn more about the EPIC Model.

Get Started

Visit our university or community page to learn more about how to start a program and start improving the quality of life and social wealth of your community today!

Our Origin Story: The “Oregon Model” becomes the “EPIC Model”

For years, universities have called on faculty and students to help local governments with their community challenges, but what has become known as the EPIC Model actually began with the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) at the University of Oregon in 2009.

Two University of Oregon professors, Nico Larco and Marc Schlossberg, had good working relationships with the government of nearby Salem. Larco and Schlossberg asked the local government if it would be willing to underwrite the costs of coordinating interested university faculty—and their classes—in a concentrated, time-limited effort to work on many of Salem’s long list of identified problems. 

Interest from both faculty and students exceeded everyone’s expectations. Faculty were interested in an easy opportunity to learn from colleagues about solving shared problems. Students were interested in improving the world they had inherited. The combinatorial power of multidisciplinary expertise and the sheer number of students working to solve problems meant breakthroughs for the city of Salem. The Oregon program quickly attracted applications from other cities.

Assisted by its advancement by SCYP principals and their colleagues (notably, the late Robert Young), word of this new model spread quickly to other universities, including the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, San Diego State University, Texas A&M University, and St. Thomas University. Within a few years, organizers began an annual conference that brought together recent adopters of the model and potential recruits. That conference continues to this day, allowing participants to share problems and solutions, learn from others using the model, and develop materials for common use.    

In the ensuing years—and in keeping with the original SCYP emphases on utilizing existing university classes, aiming at the public good, remaining community originated and -focused, and requiring that communities be fully engaged in a true partnership—EPIC programs have revised the original model in important ways: engagement with partner local governments/communities usually extends beyond one year; more than one community is often served simultaneously; non-municipal sources of financing are commonly sought after; and program commitment underscores social inclusion, fair treatment, and resilient public accountability—not solely environmental sustainability. 

In the past few years, the EPIC-Network has grown rapidly. We are now more than 70 programs strong. That growth is due in part to the fact that we moved from an informal network to officially incorporating in 2017, with a formal Board of Directors and Advisory Board. We established the organization as an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) in 2018. 

EPIC-N has also expanded internationally. Initially, a few universities outside the United States were involved with the EPIC-Network. The concerted effort to move beyond the US effectively began in 2018 with the formation of a fledgling EPIC-Africa Network. We plan to continue expansion in Asia and in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. 

Reflecting our international commitment, we adhere to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—the universal language of public-minded development. EPIC-N uses these goals as a uniform measure of our contribution to communities. As we like to say, “the EPIC Model is the GSD (‘get stuff done’) of the SDG.”

The Funding

EPIC-N is a membership-based organization. Operations are funded by a mixture of membership contributions, grants, and fees for services rendered.

July 2020 – June 2021 Annual Report

EPIC-N Partner Organizations

EPIC-N Short Brochure
EPIC-N Community Handout
EPIC-N University Handout


This work © 2017 by EPIC-N is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0