Service-learning program connects students with community

Service-learning program connects students with community

The IU East Center for Service-Learning is continuing to grow and establish new relationships with the campus and community.

In the past year, the service-learning program has initiated an on-campus office to engage faculty and students in a higher level of service learning. Ange Cooksey, senior lecturer in English, works with students involved in the program to coordinate orientation, training and resources for faculty and students who want to become involved in service-learning projects. A faculty fellows program has been established to provide learning and retooling opportunities for faculty who would like to engage their students in service-learning.

The office is developing a database to track the service-learning opportunities and to log hours spent on volunteering. “We want to be able to truly recognize and celebrate students’ involvement with the campus and to the community. We also want to be able to nominate students for state or national awards for their service,” Cooksey said.

In 2004, Cooksey established the Baxter Neighborhood Help Center as a cooperative project between IU East and the Richmond community. The center has been a successful learning tool and community outreach program for students.  A grant by Indiana Campus Compact awarded in January 2008 has allowed the program to flourish by establishing the campus office and expanding opportunities for programming to the community.

“We’ve really tried to enable outside funding to keep pace with internal growth,” Cooksey said.

The program is already planning for improvements in 2009. A grant from the Wayne County Foundation will help the service-learning program install a new computer lab at the Jerry Geier Apartments. Residents of the apartments will have access to GED classes onsite and childcare will be provided by the IU East Child Development Center while parents take the classes. IU East is partnering with Adult and Alternative Education in Richmond Community Schools to bring the GED classes close to home.

A partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County is providing IU East students the opportunity to develop an academic program with young students. Through Mitch’s Kids, a program focused on academic enrichment, IU East students develop classroom material and instruct students in the afterschool program at the club. This provides an opportunity for the students to apply their skills as a teacher.

For their efforts, the service-learning program has been named to the President’s Honor Roll for the third straight year by The Corporation for National and Community Service for exemplary service efforts and service to communities.

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