California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes institutions of higher learning and the efforts of their students, faculty and staffs to bettering their local communities through service.
Awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in Washington, D.C., the designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. Institutions making the list reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.
“Cal State Long Beach has a long-standing commitment to service-learning, and we believe strongly in preparing our graduates to be active leaders and participants in an ever changing world,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “We’re honored to receive this prestigious award and owe much of it to the students themselves. They’re the energy driving our commitment and they’re the ones who make it all happen.”
Nationwide, college students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country — a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.
At CSULB, officials with the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) estimated that some 6,650 students from the university engaged in some form of community service in 2011-12, including 4,320 students who were involved in academic service-learning. In all, these students totaled 984,716 community service hours.
“Congratulations to Cal State Long Beach, its faculty and students for its commitment to service, both in and out of the classroom,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges.”
CSULB formally embraced community service learning in 1998, creating the Community Service- Learning Center—now the CCE. The CSU system provides $45,000 annually, and CSULB commits three positions for the CCE and one position in the College of Education to administer the Federal Work Study America Reads/Counts program and Service Experiences for Revitalizing Education (SERVE).
The campus’ Student Life and Development area hosts Make a Difference Day and supports 21 student service organizations such as American Red Cross at CSULB, CSULB Clothesline Project, Engineers without Borders and Habitat for Humanity. The Career Development Center supports JusticeCorps, an AmeriCorps program with the Los Angeles County Courts involving 17 CSULB students. Beta Alpha Psi and the Accounting Society run the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for students and community members. Staff Council supports the American Cancer Society through fund-raisers and local needy children through the Cherishing the Children holiday toy drive.
Academically, the campus has a well-developed service-learning program and several degree programs recently developed or under development with community engagement at their core, including a master’s degree in applied sociology with a concentration in community development and social change.
Recently, the campus completed a funded project involving hundreds of students and numerous faculty leveraging campus and community resources to provide cross-agency support and services to homeless and recently homeless families and military veterans residing at Villages at Cabrillo in west Long Beach.
CSULB also has a history of successful partnerships as demonstrated by its K-16 Seamless Education Partnership between the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College and the university. The partnership was established to ensure that more students would graduate from high school prepared for college, and it encourages and supports ongoing collaboration and reciprocal learning between the institutions.
“Community engagement has become part of the campus’ culture,” said Juan Benitez, CCE’s executive director. “Many of our faculty, students and staff have deep roots in the community, and all of these, along with an administration that recognizes and values the role of the university in the community, have provided the means and the opportunity for Cal State Long Beach to develop into a truly engaged campus.”
Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, CNCS has administered the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since 2006. It manages the program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact.
“Communities are strengthened when we all come together, and we are encouraged that these institutions and their students have made service a priority,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Civic engagement should be a key component of every student’s education experience. Through reaching out to meet the needs of their neighbors, these students are deepening their impact, strengthening our democracy and ultimately preparing themselves to be successful citizens.”
More information about CSULB’s community service efforts can be found on the CCE web pages. More information on eligibility and the full list of Honor Roll awardees, can be found at www.nationalservice.gov.
CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund and other programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.