(June 30, 2008) – California State University, Fresno continues to be an important force for good in the region, providing 667,836 hours of community service during the 2007-08 academic year.

Totals released today by the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State set the economic impact of the university’s service efforts at an estimated $15.9 million (measured by national philanthropic standards), a 51 percent increase over 2006-07.

“Our institution continues to be a force for positive change in our community in ways that go well beyond a simple accounting of hours,” said Chris Fiorentino, the center’s director. “These data clearly demonstrate that Fresno State continues to live out its vision of being a premiere engaged university.”

An estimated 10,520 Fresno State community members – students, staff, faculty and administrators – were involved in some form of service during the past academic year. The total is a 68 percent increase over the 2006-07 levels.

Examples of Fresno State’s service initiatives include Academic Service-Learning (160 classes with nearly 3,800 students providing over 88,000 hours of service), the Fresno State MOSAIC program, the Community Service Scholarship Program, American Humanics, Jumpstart Fresno, Fresno READS, various one-day service projects, the Mediator Mentor program and the Youth To College project.

Those who volunteered had positive experieces:

“Tutoring at Vinland (Elementary School) has changed who I am. It has brought meaning to my life. I can say I am making a difference every time I walk through Vinland’s gates,” said freshman Johanna Macias, a Fresno READS Tutor.

Dr. Benjamin Boone, associate professor of Music, said: “By working with teachers and students at Teilman Education Center, my students now realize how course content can be implemented in the ‘real world’ and how their skills can make a significant difference.”

Betsy Hays, assistant professor of Mass Communications and Journalism said: “Seeing my students have those ‘light bulb’ moments – when they really understand that their work is making an impact – is priceless. When they understand that they can use their knowledge to make the world a better place, it’s magical.”

Fresno State President John D. Welty said these outcomes, and many more like them, are the true measure of impact that the university’s service efforts have had on our community.

Community service is a cornerstone of the Fresno State experience. The Richter Center was founded last year to improve the quality of life in Central California. One of the center’s goals is to help the university achieve 1 million hours of annual service by the end of its centennial in 2011. The Richters, community and university benefactors for more than 60 years, donated $3.5 million to establish the center.

Fresno State’s commitment to service hasn’t gone unnoticed at the national level. In February, the Corporation for National and Community Service honored the university with a Special Achievement Award at the American Council on Education annual conference. Fresno State was one of two minority-serving institutions to receive the award.

The distinction recognized the university’s Mediator Mentors program, a university-public school partnership in which future teachers, counselors, social workers, and school psychologists support development of conflict-resolution skills in children. Fresno State students train and mentored several hundred youth peer mediators at elementary and middle schools in the Fresno area.

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