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CSU Receives Grant to Train Service-Learning Leaders

(March 5, 2007) - The California State University has received a $200,000 three-year grant from the Surdna Foundation to create a leadership development program for CSU community service learning directors, coordinators and students to expand their skills, sustain existing programs and implement new activities for the CSU’s 23 campuses.

The CSU’s “Next Stage: Boosting Service Learning to New Heights” initiative will focus on three levels of training for up-and-coming service-learning leaders, seasoned leaders, and community-minded students.

Community service learning is classroom study linked to community service. Such service enhances academic learning by enabling students to apply knowledge and skills gained through academic study to real-world problem solving and to value the connections between their academic work and real-world activities.

“Service learning in the California State University will mark its 10th anniversary this year, and the impact our students and faculty have had in communities all across California is unparalleled,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “The CSU is a national leader in this field, and the only system in the country to have established a system office to provide leadership to all our campuses. We are grateful to the Surdna Foundation for recognizing our past and contributing to our future.”

The CSU offers more than 1,800 service-learning courses annually, which gives 65,000 students the opportunity to participate each year. Since 1999, more than 1.2 million CSU students have participated in a variety of community service activities. Their contribution equates to a minimum wage equivalent of more than $1.3 billion.

“The Surdna Foundation is pleased to award the California State University Office of the Chancellor $200,000 to fund a program that will train new and seasoned leaders in the area of community service learning. The Foundation believes deeply that service and learning open long-term paths for the head and the heart, and can help educate a generation to the importance of citizen-driven community improvement. The CSU's program fits perfectly with that mission,” said Robert Sherman, Program Director for Effective Citizenry.

With first-year grant funding of $67,000, the CSU Office of Community Service Learning will gather initial information on existing training resources, conduct site visits to campuses that already offer strong training programs, and develop a training curriculum. Three state and national partners: 1) California Campus Compact; 2) Idealist; and 3) Portland State University also will be vital contributors to the successful launch and implementation of the program.  The first training program is expected to begin in fall 2007 and will involve 45 CSU campus participants.

In the second and third years, training will continue and will be extended to members of California Campus Compact, which includes community colleges, private universities, research institutions, and the CSU. The curriculum will be refined as needed and a consulting corps will be recruited. By the end of the second year, the consulting corps will complete the “train-the-trainers” model and be available to provide on-site training in the third year to other large higher education systems. The training series will continue in year three with Compact members from the western region (California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii) invited to participate.

The most significant short-term result of the Surdna grant will be the development of campus leaders with professional skills who will provide greater office stability as well as design dynamic initiatives to benefit their individual campuses. In addition, the CSU will develop an online evaluation system to assess the changes in leadership skills, knowledge and attitudes of training participants, as well as progress on the growth of the service-learning offices.

Service learning as a field has grown dramatically in complexity over the past 10 years, as more students and more community partners become involved.

In addition, the field has come to encompass civic and/or community engagement, which lays a civic foundation for preparing informed and engaged leaders to serve the public good by being involved in their communities throughout their lifetimes.

As part of its challenge to include civic and community engagement, the CSU system office and the campuses have initiated strategic planning efforts. By October 2007, all service learning offices will work off of new or current strategic plans that will articulate their role in a broader engagement agenda. The Surdna grant will assist campuses with those efforts.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 417,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 84,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See

The Surdna Foundation is a family foundation established in 1917 by John Emory Andrus.The foundation makes grants in the areas of environment, community revitalization, effective citizenry, the arts and the nonprofit sector, with annual grant making of approximately $37 million. See

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Last Updated: March 5, 2007

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