SF State community service earns more national kudos

SF State's Community Service Learning (CSL) program was recognized as a national model by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC). A Higher Education Civic Engagement Award, which recognizes public service and community engagement, was presented to President Robert A. Corrigan on Oct. 3 in Washington, D.C.

A photo of President Corrigan with the award, flanked by the presenters.

From left: Former Ambassador to Belgium and TWC Board Chair Alan J. Blinken, President Corrigan, TWC President Michael B. Smith.

TWC lauded SF State for its diverse program, which is woven into the curriculum of 47 departments with more than 500 courses linking hands-on community service with academic study.

"San Francisco State University has created an environment that brings students and community organizations together, showing that the best and most well-rounded academic experience is not just defined by classroom learning," said Mike Smith, president of TWC.

SF State’s program was also recognized in May with a Presidential Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that leads President Barack Obama’s call to service initiative. It is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service.

Part of SF State’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, CSL partners with government, business and educational organizations to advance the University’s civic engagement goals. SF State students have conducted public health education campaigns, English language classes for immigrants and after school programs designed to interest minority youth and girls in science careers. Community service learning credits are included on student transcripts, and evaluations of CSL programs are based on the impact students make in the community. Ninety-two percent of SF State’s partner organizations report that student involvement has significantly improved their quantity and quality of services, empowered staff and created a renewed sense of creativity and energy.

Director of CSL Perla Barrientos said that SF State students contributed 389,210 documented hours to community service during the 2009-10 academic year. "To be recognized as a model among academic institutions is great," she said. "Much of the credit belongs to our committed faculty and staff who helped to build the SF State program over the past 14 years."

The Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards were created in 2009 to highlight role models for civic engagement in the academic community. Six higher education institutions were selected from 140 nominations this year. Benedict College, Augsburg College, DePaul University, Duke University and Florida Gulf Coast University joined SF State as the 2011 awardees. Selections were made by an awards committee that included representatives of the Carnegie Corporation’s US Democracy Program, the Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning Engagement and the Case Foundation.

Established in 1975, The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C. for academic credit. The largest program of its kind, The Washington Center has close to 50,000 alumni who have become leaders in numerous professions and nations around the world. 

-- Denize Springer