CSU reaches new milestones in community service learning

(February 13, 2004) – More than 185,000 California State University students provided nearly 30 million hours of service to their communities during the last academic year through community service and service learning programs at the 23 CSU campuses.

Nearly 200 new CSU courses with service learning components were prepared for the 2003/04 academic year. CSU students now have an estimated 60,000 service learning opportunities, twice the number available just three years ago.

The students’ education is enriched by these programs while their efforts generate good will and provide economic value to the communities they serve. The current 29.7 million hours of service provided by students is the minimum wage equivalent of more than $200 million.

“The California State University’s community service programs have enriched both the students who are involved and the communities which have received the benefits of their commitment,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “It provides yet another example of the vital role the CSU plays in enriching California’s economy and quality of life.”

The community service initiative, formalized by the Board of Trustees in March 2000, encompasses four areas of focus: civic engagement, academic service learning, community service, and national service.

  • Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of the community by becoming active citizens. This could entail working in student government or promoting discussion of community issues. For example, four campuses joined the 2003 Raise Your Voice Campaign, a national effort to encourage students to address issues important to them.

  • Academic service learning is a teaching method that promotes student learning by involving them in planned service in the community that is directly related to course content. More than 1 in 8 CSU students have the opportunity to take part in academic service learning. A recent survey found that community-based assignments were more highly rated than lectures in creating interest, improving writing skills, and helping students understand real-life problems.

  • Community service includes a host of health, education, and social service programs, many sponsored by student clubs. In fact, student-led organizations have been working in their communities for more than 40 years. About 45 percent of CSU students take part in a community service activity each year, a large part of which is devoted to providing tutorial or other educational services, such as the America Reads tutoring program.

  • National service involves CSU students in nationally based service organizations such as AmeriCorps, often called the “domestic Peace Corps.” AmeriCorps participants provide 450 to 900 hours of highly structured community service each year in return for a scholarship and living allowance. Since 1998, more than $3.5 million in educational scholarships have been awarded to students coming from the AmeriCorps programs, allowing students to pay their way through college while answering the needs of their community.

For brochures or further information, contact Season Eckardt, (562) 951-4787, seckardt@calstate.edu, or visit the community service website at www.calstate.edu/csl.

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Last Updated: February 13, 2004

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