Alma College Makes National Service Honor Roll 2014

“Education takes place in multiple formats and places, and it is important to extend opportunities for learning into the community, region and wider world.” — Anne Ritz

Students serve at a local food pantry.Students serve at a local food pantry.For the seventh 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 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging students, faculty and staff in meaningful service. The corporation, which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted 766 colleges and universities for their role in solving community challenges through service.

“Education takes place in multiple formats and places, and it is important to extend opportunities for learning into the community, region and wider world,” says Anne Ritz, the college’s service-learning coordinator.

Alma College students meet local needs through participation with a number of community organizations, says Ritz, including Alma Public Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Child Advocacy, Commission on Aging, Community Café, Gratiot County Free Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, Headstart, Hospice Care, Masonic Pathways, Mid-Michigan Medical Center, Women’s Aid and many others.

Students at an alternative break.Students at an alternative break.“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 50 academic service learning courses. Alma data reflects that 86 percent of the 2013 graduating seniors enrolled in academic service learning, with 49 percent of the class completing two or more service learning courses during their undergraduate education.

Exemplary projects at Alma College include:

• The Alternative Break program, in which students, faculty and staff serve in a variety of ways during winter and spring breaks. In 2012-13, more than 140 students, faculty and staff served in a variety of capacities during campus breaks. Service issues included homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, urban poverty, disaster relief, education and college access. Read more about Alternative Breaks.

• 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. In 2012-13, more than 260 Alma College students mentored local youth.

• The College Access Summer Challenge, in which college students served as College Positive Volunteers to guide local youth ages 5 to 12 through an exploration of careers and college majors via field trips to college campuses in coordination with visits to museums and zoos.

Students assist Habitat for Humanity.Students assist Habitat for Humanity.College students make a significant contribution to communities through volunteering and service, according Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS.

“Service and higher education go hand in hand,” says Spencer. “These schools are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems. By recognizing the institutions who are leading the way to achieve meaningful, measurable results for the communities they serve, we also highlight the vital role all colleges and universities play in addressing community challenges and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.”

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.


Story published on December 15, 2014