By Christopher Johnson |Staff Writer|
CSUSB gained recognition for the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the fifth straight year.
This Honor Roll recognition was established in 2006 and comes from the highest levels of federal government that shines the spotlight on higher education institutions that provide the blueprint for giving back to communities by means of time and service.
“One of our goals as a university is to be a good neighbor to our community,” said Service Learning Director Diane Podolske Ph.D. “We’re not just the school on the hill, but we are actually part of the neighborhood here in the Inland Empire.”
What made this year different from the rest was that President Barack Obama and his team divided up the competition by adding categories of service.
This allowed CSUSB to flourish as they also received the Carnegie Classification in the categories of Curricular Engagement and Outreach Programs, according to Community-University Partnerships.
“If we can create a pattern of involvement, or lifelong service to the community, then that’s a legacy we are very proud to say our campus has left with the students,” said by Service Learning Associate Director Bryant Fairley.
According to the CSUSB news site, last year alone over 3,100 CSUSB students participated in community service projects including around 1,000 who gave more than 50 hours of service.
Based on accepted national volunteer rate of $21.36 per hour, students contributed more than $1.28 million to local communities through more than 60,000 hours of volunteer service.
Currently there are 1,784 students enrolled in courses that include a service-learning component, and CSUSB’s Community-University Partnerships program seeks to build partnerships and make a positive impact within the community.
The university shares over 500 partnerships with area agencies and businesses, according to CSUSB news site.
“What we’ve seen in the last four or five years is that the way the economy is going there has been an increase in request from our community partners,” said Fairley.
“It’s been a lot of city and county entities that are looking for and benefiting from our service, whether it is the City of San Bernardino or the City of Colton.”
Currently CSUSB offers a Federal Work Study (FWS) community service program that employs a total of 115 students which represents 31 percent of the overall FWS program where only seven percent is required, according to Podolske.
Other projects are the DisAbility Sports Festival, and a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).
The festival was created to increase the quality of life and health of people with disabilities by introducing them to adapt to physical activity opportunities, and CSUSB accounting students assisted the tax preparation needs of low-income and bilingual residents.
The community service learning program expects student interest to grow in years to come.
“What I think will keep students coming back is that they see that more graduate schools are looking for volunteer service on applications, more employers are looking at that as part of what a person brings to the workplace, so in terms of students future plans this is becoming more central,” said Podolske.