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CSUMB receives Presidential Award for community service

University is only two-time top honoree in the nation

California State University, Monterey Bay has received the Presidential Award as part of the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service.

CSU Monterey Bay President Dianne Harrison (pictured at left in red jacket) received the award June 8 in New Orleans. Dr. Seth Pollack, director of CSUMB's Service Learning Institute, and Dr. Miguel Lopez, co-founder of the "Increase the Peace" initiative and a faculty member in Liberal Studies, also attended the awards ceremony.

The Corporation for National and Community Service received applications from more than 850 colleges and universities. Only six received the Presidential Award.

In 2006, the program’s inaugural year, CSU Monterey Bay was one of three recipients of the top award. It has been named to the Honor Roll each year since then.

"Not only is service learning woven into our curriculum," President Harrison said, "it also is part of our university's ethos of engaging with and contributing to our surrounding communities." CSUMB was honored in the category of summer learning, highlighting its many programs that work with at-risk youth, providing young people opportunities to work alongside CSUMB students in strengthening their college readiness. The award specifically recognizes CSUMB’s Increase the Peace Summer Youth Leadership Program, which provides literacy, math and art classes for at-risk students at El Sausal Middle School in Salinas. The program works to strengthen students’ sense of pride and cultural identify through art and literature so they can reject harmful influences and continue on the path to college.

Congressman Sam Farr noted that CSUMB is serving as a national example of community service, grounded in the spirit of helping others. “Demonstrating the best of our values of selflessness and compassion, I'm certain that this award will undoubtedly help promote and inspire volunteerism for the next generation of youth on the Central Coast,” Congressman Farr said in a prepared statement.

CSUMB is the only public university in California, and one of the few nationally, where service learning is a requirement for all students. Each year, nearly 50 percent of CSUMB’s students enroll in service learning courses contributing more than 84,000 hours of service to more than 250 schools, non-profit organizations and government agencies in the tri-county area. And service learning is an academic department, where issues of service, diversity, social justice and social responsibility are linked to the core curriculum.

“It’s wonderful to see our program being recognized nationally and even internationally,” Dr. Pollack said.

“No other university in the country has made as significant a commitment to developing students’ capacity for service and social responsibility.”

“We have a very special program, and it feels great to be recognized as a national leader.”

According to the Corporation and National and Community Service, honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation 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.


Service Learning programs have included: • The Juvenile Hall Teen Film Festival had incarcerated youth, along with other students, produce films that were screened at a film festival. • The Return of the Natives Watershed Restoration project worked to turn urban dumping grounds into community parks. • CSUMB worked with the Monterey County Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA) to provide free income tax preparation to lower-income families. • Through a partnership with the Monterey County Office of Employment Training, Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, and El Sausal Middle School, the university provided a seven-week literacy, math, and arts summer program for eighth-graders. • The Chinatown Renewal Project brought together students with Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino community organizations to assist in the revitalization of the historically rich, though economically blighted Chinatown neighborhood of Salinas.

Service in 2010 • At least 2,809 students participated in community service through CSUMB’s community partnerships; 2,041 students were enrolled in service learning courses and worked with 240 schools, non-profit organizations and government agencies in the region. • Approximately 84,270 hours were donated by CSUMB students, staff, and faculty to their surrounding communities. CSUMB’s Impact in the Community • Construction of the Chinatown Community Learning Center, as well as a 30,000-square foot community garden. • Implementation of a job-training program for formerly homeless individuals. • Support for a silk-screening cooperative and a composting enterprise employing formerly homeless individuals. • Support to conduct oral history interviews with families in the neighborhood to collect and archive important historical information. • Support for the consolidation of homeless services in the Chinatown neighborhood. • Provided 250 hours of free income tax preparation, resulting in the return of nearly $100,000 to Monterey County residents. • More than 1,100 CSUMB students mentored 50,000 Salinas school children, who propagated and planted 200,000 native plants, removed thousands of pounds of trash, monitored water quality, and made videos and trail guides in the Creeks of Salinas parks. • At least 125 service-learning students were mentors for children in eight after-school programs; as a result, 98.6 percent of the children expressed a desire to attend college.