IUP Named to National Community Service Honor Roll for Third Straight Year

Posted on 5/17/2011 5:10:54 PM
President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll logo

IUP has been selected, for the third consecutive year, for inclusion on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts to America’s communities.

The honor roll is produced by the Corporation for National Community Service 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 most recent honor roll recognizes achievements during the 2009-2010 academic year.

“This continued national recognition reflects the university’s demonstrated commitment to civic engagement, community service, and citizenship and demonstrates the significant involvement of IUP’s students and faculty members in community service and service-learning activities throughout Indiana County and Western Pennsylvania,” Dr. Rhonda Luckey, vice president for Student Affairs, said.

Community Service, by the Numbers

IUP recorded more than 136,810 hours of community service through the work of 8,752 volunteers for the 2009-2010 academic year. This is an increase of almost 30,000 hours and more than 3,100 volunteers from the 2008-2009 academic year.

Measured by the current national minimum wage, the 2009-2010 volunteer work hours would be valued at $991,872.50.

Comparing the number of volunteers with the overall student population of 15,126 shows that 58 percent of IUP students offered some kind of service to the Indiana community.

Examples of IUP service projects for the 2010-2011 academic year are as follows:

  • Biannual day of service projects, with more than five hundred students offering up to ten hours of service to nonprofit community agencies during the two Saturdays of the event
  • KidsRead program, in which IUP students volunteered more than 1,100 hours to tutor one hundred elementary students once or twice a week
  • Several food drives, which resulted in the collection of more than $3,000 and close to 3,000 pounds of food and personal care items for the Indiana County Community Action Program food pantry
  • Collection of eight hundred children’s books for the Indiana Guidance Center and hundreds of gently used clothing items for Goodwill Industries
  • Participation in the community’s Daffodil Days for the American Cancer Society
  • Raising of funds for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief through several clubs and organizations

On a national scale, 120 students participated in the university’s ninth annual Alternative Spring Break program in 2011, offering a week of service at locations from Vermont to Texas, in settings ranging from nonprofit animal rescue agencies to communities devastated by flooding or hurricanes. IUP’s Civic Engagement and Student Leadership program, coordinated by Dr. Caleb Finegan, organized the annual Alternative Spring Break program.

AmeriCorps and Other Service-Learning Programs

Most of IUP’s community service initiatives are coordinated by the Office of Service Learning, based in the Career Development Center. The office coordinates the Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania and the Community Fellows Program—both AmeriCorps programs—and supervises the full-time AmeriCorps position.

The Scholars in Service program allows students to enroll as AmeriCorps members on a part-time basis and commit between 300 and 450 hours in an academic year to nonprofit agencies at no cost to the agency. Since the program began in 2006, students have offered more than 35,000 hours of service to organizations in the community, valued at more than $90,000.

The Community Fellows Program, new for the 2010-2011 academic year, offers scholarship funding for students to do more than three hundred service hours over the course of an academic year. For this year, students have received almost $8,000 of scholarship funds through the program.

During the 2010-2011 academic year, fifteen IUP students earned the national AmeriCorps President’s Service Award, which recognizes student volunteers who have performed at least one hundred hours of service above and beyond their initial commitment.

The Office of Service Learning also coordinates IUP’s federal Serve Study program, which benefits approximately forty community nonprofit agencies. This program allows qualified students to work up to twenty-five hours per week during the academic year at a community organization at no cost to the agency. During the 2009-2010 academic year, 114 students participated in the program, offering approximately 18,000 hours—more than $130,000 worth of work-study funds—to forty organizations, including area schools.

The office also participates in the Indiana Community University Collaborative, designed to recognize and mobilize student residents as local community assets and good neighbors.

Service Learning/Career Connection

“The mission of the Office of Service Learning, to promote excellence in professional and personal character development through experiential learning opportunities that bridge the curriculum with community service, fits well with the work of the Career Development Center,” Mark Anthony, director of the Career Development Center at IUP, said.

“The Career Development Center has as its goal to teach students, through coaching and support, how to become active participants in their own continuing career development. Community service is an excellent way to help our students find their path and build experiences that prepare them for their successful careers and lives.”

Anthony credited Vanessa Gregorakis, the AmeriCorps service member from the Office of Service Learning, who completed IUP’s award application, and Diane Stipcak, coordinator of the Service Learning program, who was recognized by the Pennsylvania AmeriCorps coordinators for excellence in operating the Community Fellows and Scholars in Service programs.

“Diane has administered a well-run program that has served as a model for other colleges across the state,” Anthony said.

Last year, Stipcak was an invited presenter for the Pennsylvania AmeriCorps conference, discussing IUP’s success with the Scholars in Service program. This year, she was invited to present at the state conference on IUP’s successful Community Fellows program.

About the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement.

Institutions are chosen based on 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.