Thursday, March 15, 2012

Whitworth recognized among top schools in the U.S. for its commitment to community service

For the fourth time in six years, Whitworth University has been placed on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Community Service Honor Roll, which was launched in 2006, is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on factors such as scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

Whitworth, which also was named to the 2010, 2008 and 2006 Community Service Honor Roll, was selected for inclusion on the 2012 Honor Roll based on initiatives such as its annual Community Building Day program, its West Central Neighborhood Partnership and its Promise Neighborhoods project.

More than 90 percent of the Whitworth student body engages in community service, with service-learning opportunities incorporated into every academic department. During the 2010-11 school year, roughly 2,300 students contributed a total of nearly 40,000 hours of service to the Spokane community, with an estimated economic impact of about $800,500. Students address issues such as poverty abatement, domestic violence, education, food insecurity, community development, environmental restoration, healthcare, eldercare, at-risk youth development, multicultural/diversity issues, philanthropy, and refugee/immigrant resettlement. Also during 2010-11, more than 88 Whitworth faculty members provided service to Spokane through community and religious organizations, and more than 40 faculty were involved in service to their students outside the classroom, acting as mentors, club advisors, research sponsors and internship supervisors.

"It is an honor to be selected once again for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll," says Keith Kelley, director of service-learning and community engagement at Whitworth. "This is a wonderful reflection of Whitworth's commitment to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity. Certainly, we would not have been in a position to receive this recognition without the tremendous dedication and support of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners. Donors, also, have a major impact on our ability to present quality developmental opportunities to our students."

Kelley continues, "While our community-based programs have grown substantially in the last decade, we believe that we are just beginning to develop opportunities for our students and surrounding communities. Whether it's through a service-learning course, a spring break service trip, an urban plunge, community-based research, or simply living in a community-based theme house, community engagement in all forms has the unique potential for cultivating vocational discernment. These experiences also equip students with the tools to effectively develop a greater understanding of cultural and systemic norms, and to effect positive change throughout their lives."

Robert Velasco, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, says, "Through service, these Honor Roll institutions are creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts in the community. We applaud Whitworth University, its faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority in and out of the classroom. Together, service and learning increase civic engagement while fostering social innovation among students, empowering them to solve challenges within their communities."

A total of 642 institutions were named to the 2012 Honor Roll. A full list of recognized institutions is available at www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll.

The Honor Roll is a program of the corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is presented during the annual conference of the American Council on Education.

On campuses across the country, millions of college students are engaged in innovative projects to meet local needs, often using the skills learned in classrooms. In 2010, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 312 million hours of service to communities across the country: service valued at more than $6.6 billion, the corporation says.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. The corporation administers Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, a program that supports service-learning in schools, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations. For more information, please visit www.nationalservice.gov.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Keith Kelley, director, Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4449 or kkelley@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.