June 15 , 2009 Your Monthly Source of Community Service-Learning News VOL. 6, NO. 8

Volunteers with the Veggielution Urban Farming Project

Volunteers with the Veggielution Urban Farming Project work on an organic, bio-intensive garden.

Editor's Corner

As we end another academic year and prepare for an important and pressing one ahead, I want to take this time to thank the many individuals on our 23 campuses, in the communities with which we live, work and serve alongside, and in the Chancellor’s Office whose outstanding commitment to community engagement has made this year a banner year! May you all have a wonderful and restorative summer. We look forward to communicating with you again in late Fall 2009.

Beginning in September, CSU Impact will move to a bi-monthly publishing schedule.

 

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In a year of fiscal deficit, the CSU had many positive numbers to celebrate:

  • More than 194,000 CSU students performed community service, totaling 32 million hours, as revealed in a 2007 student survey.

  • Grants and awards received by campuses and the Chancellor’s Office for community engagement activities totaled $4.3 million, a return on investment of nearly $4 for every dollar invested by the state.
  • CSU campuses that were members of California Campus Compact during 2008-09 received an average cash value of $27,162 in grants and student education awards through their membership.

  • For more about CSU’s accomplishments over the last year, read our 2008-2009 annual publication, Walking the Paths of Progress

 

...A Response to our Fiscal Crisis cont.

Housing

Vallejo is an area that has been depressed by the exit of many businesses due to the closure of Mare Island Naval Base in the 1990s, and more recently the failure of the national and international economy.  As a result, Vallejo has seen a significant increase in the need for supportive services, including housing.  CSU Maritime Academy service-learning students, in collaboration with the City of Vallejo’s Housing Authority, are conducting an assessment of housing information to determine if more affordable housing is in fact needed. The results of this collaborative research endeavor will be submitted to the city council for consideration of funds from the Community Block Grant. In addition, in fall 2009, students will work with community organization to raise the awareness among community members about the various social programs and employment training and job opportunities available.

Mental and Physical Health

At Cal Poly Pomona, engineering faculty and students have been working with several partners who serve low-income children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Down syndrome to design products that improve their quality of life, enable them to be more independent, and provide them with the latest technological advances that they would not otherwise have access to, due to limited financial resources.  In addition, these projects support the social service agencies, many of which have experienced significant staff reductions due to the California state budget deficit.  This has resulted in a significant increase in the child to staff ratio. The service-learning students, while learning about the unique needs of each child, serve as additional volunteer resources at the site and help to improve workplace safety.

NEWS STORIES

Community Engagement:  Now more than ever . . . a response to our fiscal crisis

At a time when our state has a budget deficit of more than $24 billion (and growing), the economic impact of the volunteer service CSU students provide is so valuable – at least $624 million. CSU students – and their commitment to service which is supported by their campuses – are tremendous assets to California.  However, the positive contributions are not only measured in dollars. The contributions are also measured in terms of the relationships that are built and the optimism and hope that are generated when one person helps another; the measurable outcomes achieved when a project comes to completion; and the enhanced learning, self efficacy, career development and community building that service learning, community service and other community engagement activities provide.  These are all benefits of community engagement . . . and they are all realized in hundreds of California communities each year thanks to CSU’s commitment to community engagement (an economic or service impact we could not begin to measure).

While the fiscal impact of these challenging budget times on the CSU is still uncertain, what is certain is CSU’s continuing commitment to community engagement as a strategy to support communities throughout California, provide active and engaging learning experiences for our students, and provide reciprocal partnership and research opportunities for our faculty and local community-based organizations.  CSU Budget Central

As the 2008-2009 academic year comes to a close, we will highlight just a sampling of the many ways CSU campuses are responding to the growing needs of California communities during this time of fiscal challenge.

Education

The Bay Area Academy is one of two Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Programs administered by the School of Social Work at San Francisco State University. The Bay Area Academy offers training courses, conferences, local training specialists, coaching and consultation services to achieve its goal of improving the quality of life for children, youth, adults, and families in the greater San Francisco Bay Area communities and beyond. Training activities are designed to ensure that participants have the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to improve client outcomes in the areas of child welfare, foster youth and adult protective services. The Bay Area Academy forms part of the continuum of child welfare professional education at SFSU's School of Social Work. The School administers a Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program for Masters of Social Work students and provides pre-service and continuing training through the Academy to many of these graduates as well as other child welfare workers.

Financial Literacy
More than 17 CSU campuses partner with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and through this partnership, the VITA program trains campus volunteers and service-learning students to provide free income tax return preparation assistance to low-income, elderly, disabled, and limited English speaking community members. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. Additional partnerships pair CSU students with local organizations who provide free assistance to special populations regarding other IRS processes.  Examples include counseling non-citizens on the W-7 Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and providing free tax help to people age 60 and older. Given our economic crisis, many campuses and their community partners are exploring ways to expand their VITA services to include service-learners from other disciplines and community experts who would provide: one-on-one counseling sessions; 50-minute workshops on topics such as renegotiating mortgages to prevent foreclosure, cost-effective ways to provide healthy meals, and creating a resume. 

Food Security

What began as community gardening has become urban farming in the City of San José.  In April 2008, the Prusch Farm Park Foundation adopted the Veggielution Urban Farming Project and an organic, bio-intensive garden began to take root. Each Sunday, volunteers work on a variety of tasks, which include: starting seeds, planting, weeding, building and turning compost piles, and harvesting.  After 2-3 hours of work, participants share a potluck lunch and are encouraged to take home produce.  Local organizations - San José State being one of them - are also given produce, with an estimated yield of 1705 pounds of crop in 2008. Veggielution obtained fiscal sponsorship through The William James Association and the Healthy Silicon Valley coalition in which both groups share a federal AmeriCorps grant. The project has captured second place in the Silicon Valley Social Entrepreneurship Business Plan competition and received a Provost’s Award for Service-Learning.  The goals of Veggielution are to educate the community on growing healthy food, build relations between community members, and increase awareness of environmental and social justice issues.

Questions?For ideas, comments, or questions
about editorial content, e-mail Judy Botelho at jbotelho@calstate.edu.

Review past issues at the CSU Impact Archives.
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