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Intro to Virtual Engagement for Socially Focused Institutions

Hello everyone! My name is Emily Singerhouse, a Research Associate and Media Manager for Strategic Prevention Solutions. For the next few weeks, I will be talking with you about the concept of virtual engagement.

This blog series will discuss various topics surrounding virtual engagement—such as what virtual engagement is, what this looks like across disciplines, and using it in your work as a socially focused organization.

Before I get into some details about virtual engagement, I am going to give you a little background on myself. I am a researcher and evaluator who focuses on the issues of violence prevention and community wellness enhancement. Since 2015, I have worked on these issues through the political, academic, and private sectors. I facilitate a community-based action research approach because I believe rigorous research entails community partnership, building upon strengths the community already has, and knowledge sharing as a whole.

Back in 2020, I worked in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota on a youth sex trading project. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social uprisings in Minneapolis, the virtual world became a place of resource sharing, social-emotional support, and a place where the community lives. We found new ways to conduct research, engage with the community, and create partnerships. It was there we created the research method of “Virtual Participatory Action Research.”

Source: Take Action MN

What is virtual engagement?

Virtual engagement, also referred to as “online engagement” or “digital engagement,” is the process of interacting with others to build relationships or complete activities in the online world. Virtual engagement is a tool that agencies and organizations can use to:

· Connect with community members

· Share resources & education

· Change messaging and de-stigmatize norms

· Garner support for funding

· Create partnerships with like-minded entities

· & more!

There are many ways we can all benefit from using the online world, and I am so excited for you to find out how you will, too. Join me over the next few weeks while we dive into this vast, novel, and incredibly exciting topic–virtual engagement!

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