Founded in 2003, the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services (IIHHS) is a community-engaged center of learning, scholarship, and mutual support between James Madison University and the community of Harrisonburg, surrounding counties, and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. IIHHS has more than 28 programs and is housed within JMU’s College of Health and Behavioral Studies. Our programs strive to build on the strengths of our community and step into the gaps in a way that helps all of our members thrive. For more than 15 years IIHHS has been living the JMU three-pronged vision for an engaged university:

  • Engaged Learning and Scholarship: IIHHS provides opportunities for hundreds of students each year to learn from families in our community about a range of issues, including rural life, the dignity and capacity of people with disabilities and neuro-diversity, the challenges and rewards of caregiving, the excitement of early literacy programs, the resilience and perseverance of our refugee and immigrant communities, and the health care needs of our neighbors who are homeless, among other things.

Faculty have opportunities to partner with our programs and the communities they serve to conduct community-engaged research that yields collaborative innovations in the health and human service arenas.

  • Community Engagement: All of the programs at IIHHS are built on mutually beneficial partnerships that address community-identified needs, and provide opportunities for all parties to work together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our vulnerable neighbors in Harrisonburg, surrounding counties, and throughout the Commonwealth.
  • Civic Engagement: IIHHS program staff, students, faculty, and community partners, are building on their experiences to inform policy decision-makers about the investments needed to better support families in our communities. For example, efforts by IIHHS programs have led to the creation of a new child care center in Page County (Healthy Families), and are informing systems change as it relates to providing state-of-the-art education for children with special needs (Training & Technical Assistance Center) and preventing suicide among college students (The Campus Suicide Prevention Center of Virginia). We make efforts to leverage our community experiences to help systems work better for the families of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Please explore the other pages of our website to learn about our community-engaged programs that extend JMUs involvement with the local and state-wide communities. I would be delighted to talk with you about how you could join our efforts to support our neighbors in the Commonwealth. You may contact me at

Linda Plitt Donaldson, Director


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