Fresno State service wins presidential recognition

California State University, Fresno’s extensive volunteer efforts were recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service as one of nine finalists for the General Community Service Category of the  2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

It’s the fifth consecutive year Fresno State has received this highest level of federal recognition for a commitment to civic engagement and community service. Fresno State was among 641 colleges and universities admitted to this year’s Honor Roll, out of 851 institutions that applied.

Fresno State President John D. Welty said, “We’re honored by this national recognition of our service from Fresno State to our campus and the general community.

“For 100 years, now, Fresno State has made a habit of service. Our students, faculty and staff look for opportunities to actively and innovatively help individuals and groups in need and also meet the challenges of our entire region.”

The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State coordinates the university’s volunteer initiatives. However, Richter Center Director Chris Fiorentino said Fresno State’s commitment to service is very broad.

“There are literally thousands of people who are involved in the university’s service efforts,” he said upon hearing about Fresno State being a finalist.

“Faculty members like Mark Somma, who coordinates the Fresno State Environmental Service-Learning project; staff members like Renee Delport, who coordinates the Projects to Partnerships effort; and Mellissa Jessen and Shawna Blair, who coordinate the Alternative Spring Break initiative, are to be commended for their part in helping the university garner this recognition,” Fiorentino said.

“There are thousands of students who have put in over 1.16 million hours of service, and they are the real heroes who this award honors the most,” Fiorentino added.

Projects to Partnerships is an innovative effort to develop long-term partnerships with community organizations to leverage student participation in one-day events to deepen impact on the community. Examples are trail-cutting with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy and repair and preservation of Rotary Storyland and Playland at Roeding Park in an economically depressed area of Fresno.

The shift from projects to partnership has “helped build agency capacity to work with volunteers, increasing agency access to university resources, and increasing the impact of service by the university,” said Fiorentino.

The application for award consideration also sited environmental service-learning efforts that include removing debris from the San Joaquin River and its banks and Alternative Spring Break, an initiative that puts students into community service during the annual break.

The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on the scope and innovation of service projects, extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

For a full list of recipients and descriptions of their service, visit www.NationalService.gov/HonorRoll.

Related links:

Corporation for National and Community Service

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