2013 Community Engagement Scholars Application

Dear Colleagues,

A resource is available to academic divisions, departments, or learning communities to support community-engagement efforts. In collaboration with the Office of Service-Learning, academic departments can be selected to host undergraduate or graduate students who will assist with community partnerships, community-based research projects, service-learning courses, or other community-engagement efforts. This program is an extension of the existing Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania program, a program available to students since 2006.

Individual academic departments can now apply for a Community Engagement Scholar for next academic year (AY 13-14). The purpose of this program is to deepen university/community partnerships through the strengths and talents of individual academic disciplines and multi- disciplinary departments. The Scholars are enrolled in an AmeriCorps program (Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania) and receive an educational award and bi-weekly community leadership training in exchange for their assistance.

This is how it works …

Faculty are asked to work collaboratively within their department to design a plan of action for their Community Engagement Scholar. Generally, each week CE Scholars should spend 4-5 hours in their departmental position and 4-5 hours in an intensive community placement. Departmental hosts should provide an adequate workspace for their CE Scholar (although this workspace can easily be shared with other student workers or teaching assistants). In total, CE Scholars must accrue 300 hours within the term of service – August 22, 2013 to August 21, 2014 to qualify for the AmeriCorps education award. Scholars may use personal community service activities in addition to their departmental roles to achieve the goal of 300 hours.

Examples of acceptable and unacceptable forms of service are identified in this communication. Most notably, however, CE Scholars may not engage in service that is purely research in nature without an outreach component or service that is only meant to administratively support a department. Members also must be US citizens or a lawful permanent resident alien of the U. S.

Requests will be accepted on a rolling basis. The proposal period will end on February 22nd. Host departments will be selected and notified within two weeks of their submission. Individual departments are responsible for recruiting and selecting a student(s) to serve in such a capacity and have until May 17th to do so.

I am very excited about this initiative. My colleagues in service know of very few institutions that have such a model. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have about the program or application process.

Lina Dee Dostilio
Director, Academic Community Engagement

Kate A. Molchan
Community Engagement Scholar Program Manager

*Acceptable Service*

The Office of Service-Learning recognizes that each academic department has its own culture and history of service as well as its own unique, local, community needs. However, AmeriCorps requires that at least half of the service be direct and hands-on. Furthermore, no service activity may violate the “prohibited activities” clause of the Member Contract (listed below).

At no time may the member:
1. Engage in any activity that is illegal under local, state, or federal law.
2. Engage in any activities that pose a significant safety risk to others.
3. Engage in any AmeriCorps prohibited activities that include:
A. Any activity involving attempting to influence legislation or an election or aid a partisan political organization;
B. Helping or hindering union activity;
C. Engaging in religious instruction;
D. Conducting worship services;
E. Providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship;
F. Constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship;
G. Engaging in any form of religious proselytization;
H. Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes;
I. Impairing existing contracts for services or collective beginning agreements;
J. Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political candidates, political platforms, proposed legislations, or elected officials;
K. Providing a direct benefit to a for-profit entity, a labor union, a partisan political organization, a religious organization, or a non-profit that engages in lobbying.

Most notably, approved service activities may not be political or religious in nature. Examples of acceptable service include working with after school programs and community centers, working in homeless shelters, and helping restore the environment. The list is infinite.

Contact the Office of Service-Learning to confirm the acceptability of any service activity.

*An example plan of action*

Dora Walmsley (BA ‘07) was a 2006 Scholar in Service to Pennsylvania. A sociology major, Dora was selected to assist an adjunct faculty person in the Sociology Department to administrate the Helping Process class. The class was redesigned to include a service-learning component in which students partnered with the Brashear Association, Just Harvest, and St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality. Dora worked intensively at the Brashear Association and coordinated the logistics of the service-learning placements for all sites. Her responsibilities included holding weekly office hours, regular communication with the sites and students, scheduling orientations for the students at their sites, troubleshooting logistical complications, distributing evaluations to the students, and conducting exit interviews with the community partners. Dora was also given the opportunity to facilitate one reflection session with the students. Throughout her term as a Scholar, Dora attended bi-weekly community leadership trainings coordinated by the Office of Service-Learning. These trainings included information on service-learning course design, forming and caring for community partnerships, outreach in light of the Spiritan Charism, leadership development, basics of recruiting and orienting students to service activities, and facilitating meaningful reflection. Dora also accumulated 124 hours of personal service activities such as mentoring through Strong Women, Strong Girls, participating in one of the Spiritan Campus Ministry’s cross-cultural immersion experience, and tutoring at a local community center.

    Host Information

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    Community Partner Information

    Scholars are expected to spend more than half of their time in an intensive community placement (4-5 hours per week). Along with your application, please submit a letter of support from your partner agency that confirms they are willing to host the scholar and agree that the students’ work will help to meet a need they are experiencing. For guidance on what a letter of support should include, please contact the OSL: 412-396-5893
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    Recuitment and Supervision

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