Campus: CSU, Northridge -- October 5, 2000

CSUN Receives $110,000 to Develop Community-Service Learning Courses

CSUN's Center for Community-Service Learning has received $110,000 in grants and government allocations to develop new classes and support student involvement in meaningful community service linked to course content.

Cal State Northridge has received $105,000 from the state as part of its share of a $2.2 million allocation from Governor Gray Davis in this year's state budget.

In allocating the funds, Davis said the money "will allow CSU to increase participation in service-learning courses, over four years, to approximately 15 percent of the student body, from the current 8 percent."

A $5,000 grant from the Fresno-based Radin Foundation will be used to implement the new Radin Community Service Scholarship to students who complete 170 hours of community service during this academic year.

The students will spend half their time at community-based organizations, providing direct service and acting as the organization's link to the CSUN community. The other half will be spent on campus, assisting faculty members whose classes are performing service learning projects in the community organization.

"Service learning at CSUN is strong and viable, with over 80 classes now involved in significant projects that benefit the community while enhancing student learning," said Maureen Rubin, a CSUN journalism professor and director of the Center for Community-Service Learning. "These funds will make it even stronger as we begin an additional 20 classes this academic year and create better systems for working with the community."

For example, four CSUN service-learning classes are currently working with New Directions for Youth, which includes an alternative high school in Van Nuys, and its Pregnant Minor Program affiliated with the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

At New Directions, computer science students are teaching basic computer skills to pregnant and postpartum teens and at-risk teen-aged boys. Kinesiology students are teaching appropriate physical activities to the young women and their infants, while psychology and child development students are acting as tutors and mentors to the teens.

Other service-learning students are working at scores of community agencies and public schools in a variety of capacities: direct aid to children, families and other individuals in need; education and outreach activities; and policy analysis and research.

Rubin said research strongly supports the ideas that integrating community service with readings, papers, lectures, class discussion and other coursework can increase the academic learning of students.

She said the quality of CSUN's program earned the university an additional $5,000 above the requested amount of $100,000 from the state.

In the next year, CSUN will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to identify priority areas for student involvement, create a community database to facilitate identification and matching of students with community service opportunities, establish community advisory boards and begin training programs to maximize student learning at community sites.

Launched in 1998, the Center for Community-Service Learning aims to inspire, encourage and support students and faculty in their pursuit of academic excellence through involvement in meaningful community service.

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