(Victor Valley)– – Cal State San Bernardino has been recognized for its commitment to meaningful community partnerships and outstanding service to the community with its inclusion on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for a sixth straight year, which is every year since the honor was established in 2006.
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. It highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve. It is considered the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
“Volunteer service is a tradition that our faculty, staff and students take great pride in,” said Diane Podolske, director of CSUSB’s Community-University Partnerships. “This national honor validates our commitment to make service an integral part of the educational experience at CSUSB. Serving in local communities provides valuable learning experiences for life beyond the university.”
In April 1999, California Gov. Gray Davis called for a community service requirement for all students enrolled in California’s public institutions of higher education. The California State University system responded by launching a community engagement office in all of its 23 campuses, including CSUSB. Although service is not a graduation requirement at Cal State San Bernardino, it is woven throughout the university culture.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual honor roll award, recognized a total of 642 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. This year’s list includes 16 California State University campuses.
“Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap,” said Eduardo Ochoa, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education.
Podolske said that in 2010-2011, Cal State San Bernardino offered 125 service learning course sections, taught by 55 faculty members, with nearly 2,000 service learning students addressing community needs.
Through their more than 60,000 hours of volunteer service, CSUSB students contributed more than $1.28 million to local communities. In all, the university shares more than 500 partnerships with area agencies, businesses, school districts and other organizations.
Among the numerous CSUSB volunteer projects is CoyoteCareers, which advances the preparation and employment competitiveness of Hispanic and low-income students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. An important component of the program is the service learning internship, where students have the opportunity to gain “real world” experience while addressing actual community needs in local nonprofits, schools and government agencies. Students complete a 100-hour internship and receive a $1,000 stipend, providing an opportunity for low-income students to complete an internship instead of working at career-unrelated jobs to afford their educational expenses.
The DisAbility Sports Festival was created to increase the quality of life and health of people with disabilities by introducing them to adapted physical activity opportunities. People of all abilities and ages, including returning military veterans, participate in 19 adapted sports during the festival. Sports clinics are lead by local elite players and coaches. Since the event’s inception in 2007, it has grown from 100 to 715 participants and from 200 to more than 500 student volunteers. The event led to the creation of the All Star Swim program, which provides adaptive swimming lessons.
CSUSB accounting students, as well as students from other majors, have responded to the tax preparation needs of low-income and bilingual residents through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Students provide quality tax information and income tax preparation services at no charge at eight locations in the Inland Empire. The program provides Spanish-speaking volunteers at every VITA site, as well as some locations with Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese translation services. Last year, Cal State San Bernardino students completed a total of 2,172 tax returns with an amazing error-free rate of 99.92 percent. Through the VITA program, Inland Empire low-income residents received a total of $1.3 million in tax refunds.
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.
Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.
A full list of recipients and descriptions of their service can be found at President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll at www.NationalService.gov/HonorRoll.
Visit the Corporation for National and Community Service website at www.nationalservice.gov for more information.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.