Ways to Serve the Community.
In the face of the economic depression throughout the world, students, faculty, and administrators are realizing their need to help the communities around them. Unlike businesses and residents, colleges and universities are unable to relocate when times get bad, and they have come to realize that the health of their institutions rely on the health of their communities. These folks are not only realizing that the overall health is dependent on the community’s health, but they are also realizing that when they work together, the positive growth for both is exponential!
Take for example . Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio is a top-ranking school, on a unique campus, in the middle of a bustling urban environment. They do not lack for students or highly trained faculty, and they do not lack in funding, but they have realized that in order to stay at the top, they need to support the community in which they reside.
Every year for the past ten years, Case Western Reserve University puts on a Case for Community Day [ http://case.edu/events/cfc/ ]. Students, faculty and alumni combine forces with the community to take on projects that beautify the community, provide much needed services to community members, and bring smiles to the faces of those in need.
The college also offers other ways to serve the community. They have a Center for Civic Engagement and Learning For their students , a Staff Advisory Council Community Service Committee for their staff, and relationships with Business Volunteers Unlimited
Did I mention the more than 20 student-run community service organizations that are found there?
This college is really doing their part, and on behalf of humanity, I would like to say thanks. Thank you for all that you do. And to others like you, thank you too! And for those colleges and universities that have yet to become like you, I say there is hope. Keep on reading, you’ll see!
The Formula for the Anchor
As a very wise math teacher once said, “There is a formula for everything!” So it is true for creating anchors in our communities. The formula is as follows:
Higher Education + Community Involvement = An Anchor and an Environment for Our Communities to Thrive in!
When Students and Educators get involved with their communities at large, both the schools and the communities thrive. Bad things happen no matter what we do. Maybe the major industry of an area fails. Maybe it’s a crushing natural disaster, or maybe it’s a social storm of some sort that our communities are facing. Either way, when the storms come, if we don’t have an anchor, then our communities and their residents drift away. That is how ghost towns are formed!
Universities and colleges can become the anchor that enables a community to weather those storms, and they can do it because they are a huge resource of both people, education, and money. AND when an educational institution begins to fail, community involvement can breathe life into it! Educational institutions and their communities need each other. The synergy between these two elements is quite amazing.
Becoming an Anchor
During the Netter Center for Community Involvement’s 20th Anniversary conference, 500 people from over 70 universities and more than two-dozen countries, met to discuss better ways to involve universities and public schools in building community wealth. Each campus based it’s community involvement programs on their area-specific goals. If you are in the position of creating an anchor in your community, then here are some steps for you to get started:
1. The first step in becoming an anchor in a community is to figure out what your community or educational institution needs. Ask yourself, “What does my university have to offer and what does it need?” and “What does my community have to offer and what does it need?”
2. Then you have to get creative and find a way to combine the needs and offerings of the community and universities. Check out these great examples for some inspiration.
3. Now comes the hard part. You have to get it done! Contact the necessary parties, gather public support, and put together a program that will be the anchor for your community.
Though the task may be intimidating, rest assured that you are not alone. The movement for the relationships between universities and communities has been ongoing since the 1980’s. The number of organizations supporting community and education relationships is growing. Check out the list below for some organizations that could help you!
Posted by Mark Contorno