May 16, 2012

CNU Students Log 43,921 Hours of Community Service

(Newport News, Va.) - CNU's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) develops and facilitates opportunities for students and community partners to build relational bridges that directly benefit the greater Hampton Roads community. During the 2011-12 academic year, CNU students logged a total of 43,921 volunteer hours. Independent Sector, a leadership network for nonprofits, estimates the dollar value of this volunteer time at $992,614.60. In all, more than 100 area local nonprofit organizations and schools directly benefited, including the Hampton Teen Center, Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, Refugee Resettlement Services, Peninsula Agency on Aging, Youth Volunteer Corps, and many others.

The CCE has built relationships with 165 community partners who self-identify as part one of the following tracks of service: aging, health, youth development, Newport News public schools, environment and animals, hunger and housing, international interest, women’s interest, arts and culture, and support services. Students are encouraged to spend their first year at CNU exploring the tracks and the organizations within them and deciding where they would like to serve. They then choose a track and serve primarily within their chosen track for the remainder of their time at CNU. This strategy allows students to gain an in-depth understanding of the organization in which they serve and the issues addressed, while providing valuable long-term service. The CCE facilitates student community engagement using a variety of methodologies.
 
Service Learning Classes – Faculty from various disciplines, such as leadership, business, social work, English, psychology, religious studies and others, teach courses that have a service component relating directly to the coursework. In these courses, students engage with different populations, confront and begin to understand societal issues, and join with the community to address those issues. During the spring semester, 16 service learning courses were taught across 11 disciplines, and the fall semester will see an increase to approximately 30 service learning courses offered. It is estimated that students will perform more than 6,000 hours of service in these classes alone.

Special Events – The CCE facilitates several annual service events that have a tremendous community impact. During the Annual Day of Service in August 2011, 418 CNU students and faculty logged more than 1,500 hours working side-by-side community partners to complete service projects in our parks, schools, and many government and nonprofit organizations. Another 200 students remained at CNU and wrote 200 letters to our troops and made 38 blankets for the PORT homeless shelter program. The Annual Food for Thought campaign also yielded impressive results, and the CNU community donated more than 46,000 pounds of food to the local food bank.

Special Engagement Programs – The CCE has developed specific programs to help facilitate community engagement among CNU students. The Bonner Service Scholars program has connected CNU to a national service scholarship foundation that provides access to both training and funding to students desiring to commit deeply to the community over their four years at CNU. Ten students per year, who volunteer an average of 10 hours per week, are selected to be a part of this prestigious program. In the upcoming academic year, 20 Bonner Service Scholars will provide 6,000 hours of service to the local community.  

As a result of these programs, CNU students have had a profound impact on the community in many ways, such as mentoring and tutoring middle school children, teaching English as a second language, assisting at homeless shelters, cleaning neighborhoods and public parks, collecting food to feed the hungry, and developing a community education program at a local wetland. Resources are shared and developed, challenges are overcome, and lives are changed for the better. CNU is dedicated to the idea that when we come together in the spirit of outreach, we build a better community and live a better story. CNU's Center for Community Engagement exists to inspire students’ hearts and minds in order to make this idea a reality.

For more information about CCE and its programs or to become a community partner, visit engage.cnu.edu or contact CCE Assistant Director Brad Brewer at (757) 594-7233 or Center Director Dr. Elizabeth Gagnon at (757) 594-8400.

A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small class sizes with an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor.

Media Contact:
Lori Jacobs
Director of Public Relations
lori.jacobs@cnu.edu

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