“Co-curricular service thrives at Alma. Students meet local needs through participation with a number of community organizations. In exchange, students grow civically and gain valuable skills.” — Anne Ritz, service-learning coordinator.
For the sixth straight year, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has honored Alma College for its commitment to volunteerism and service.
Alma College was admitted to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service. The corporation, which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted 690 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth.
“Co-curricular service thrives at Alma,” says Anne Ritz, the college’s service-learning coordinator. “Students meet local needs through participation with a number of community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Child Advocacy, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice Care, Masonic Pathways, Mid-Michigan Medical Center, Pine River Community Action Group, United Way, Women’s Aid, and many more.
“These partnership agencies rely on student volunteers for their creativity, commitment to service, and enthusiasm to get things done. In exchange, students grow civically and gain valuable skills through experiential learning,” says Ritz.
In addition, Alma College offers nearly 40 academic service learning courses. Eighty-four percent of the 2012 graduating seniors enrolled in academic service learning, with 68 percent of the class completing two or more service learning courses during their undergraduate education, says Ritz.
Exemplary projects at Alma College include:
- The Michigan Service Scholars AmeriCorps program, in which the college strives to engage student teachers as Michigan Service Scholars. Student teachers research, prepare and implement a service-learning lesson in the classroom where they are participating as student teachers
- The Explore/Mentor PLUS (People Learning and Uniting in Service) After School Program, in which college students provide homework help, enrichment classes and recreation activities for Alma middle and high school students.
- The Alternative Break program, in which students, faculty and staff serve in a variety of capacities during winter and spring breaks. Service issues include affordable housing, children’s health, disabilities, disaster relief, environmental sustainability, food and nutrition, health and wellness, and urban and rural poverty.
College students make a significant contribution to communities through volunteering and service, according to the CNCS. In data provided by the CNCS, 3.1 million students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service in 2012 to communities across the country — service valued at more than $2.5 billion.
“We congratulate the awardees and the students for their dedication to service,” said Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of CNCS, in a news release. “These institutions have inspired students and faculty alike to roll up their sleeves and work alongside members of the community to solve problems and improve their neighbor’s lives.”
Honorees for the Community Service Honor Roll are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovativeness of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.