Public Affairs

Cal State Serves

December 22, 2011
By Stephanie Thara

Cal State L.A. student participate in a beach clean up. Through the dedication of students, faculty and staff, the California State University has become a leader in community engagement. Each of CSU's 23 campuses partner with a wide variety of community organizations to make a difference both locally and around the world. The system works with local partners such as area food banks and homeless shelters, and spans their reach nationally through organizations including the United Way, the Salvation Army, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

In 2010-11, more than 61,000 CSU students participated in service learning opportunities at 2,250 community sites. Additionally, the number of service-learning courses offered continues to grow; 237 new service-learning courses were created last year, bringing the total number of courses systemwide to 2,739. This represents a 114% increase since the CSU systemwide efforts began in 1998.

A recent survey stated that nearly half of CSU students provide some type of service, totaling approximately 32 million hours each year. If service learning, community service and civic engagement hours were totaled, the economic impact would approach about $684 million per year.

Several CSU campuses have been lauded for their dynamic effort in developing programs and activities that serve to benefit those in need. In fact, numerous CSU campuses have been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service. In 2010, CSU Monterey Bay received the top honor of a Presidential Award for its summer learning programs, making it the second time the university has been awarded this honor.

Participants in the 2011 Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Program, volunteered with the Alluvial Community Garden. The students helped build these 3' x 12' planters, to be used by community members. ASB students provided 573 hours of service last year.During the past year, nearly 14,000 Fresno State students, faculty and staff spent 1,053,481 hours in service to the community. In addition to these countless hours of service, the total economic impact of the university's community service efforts is estimated at more than $26 million.

The CSU lends a helping hand through academic service learning, providing faculty mini-grants to support community-based participatory research and cooperative education, among other community service activities.