Emerson Foundation Awards Grant for Office of Civic Engagement

01/30/2014

Contributed by David Maley

A grant from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation will aid Ithaca College in its efforts to enhance service-learning and volunteerism opportunities for students in the community. The Auburn-based family foundation, which has supported a number of Ithaca College initiatives over the years, has awarded a $500,000 grant for the college’s Office of Civic Engagement.

Established in 2012, the Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) serves as the catalyst for all student civic engagement opportunities, including volunteer community service, course-related service learning and community-based research. It is a significant component of the college’s IC 20/20 initiative, which seeks to create a seamless experience for students in which every commitment they make — on and off campus — is fully utilized for its educational value.

“This grant is but one example of the commitment the Emerson Foundation has demonstrated through the years to the well-being of the college and to the community that the foundation serves,” said Ithaca College President Tom Rochon. “We are grateful for their support as we seek to enhance the impact of our students’ service work in the region.”

The grant was awarded as part of the college’s plans to establish a permanent endowment for the OCE, providing support for personnel as well as for civic engagement activities. Led by Anthony Hopson, assistant vice president for community/government relations and civic engagement, the office

• offers faculty development programs in concert with the Center for Faculty Excellence, to increase the availability of high quality service learning opportunities for IC students as well as provide logistical support to reduce the burden on faculty who teach a service learning course;

• develops cultural competency orientation modules for students to prepare them for effective community engagement;

• collaborates closely with community partners to identify and promote authentic and impactful service partnerships with community agencies and organizations; and

• assesses the effectiveness of various service learning and community service activities both from the perspective of educational value to students and impact on the community organizations.

The college already provides a number of formal volunteering opportunities for students, including Service Saturdays; Project Generations; Student-to-Student Mentoring; Community Plunge; Alternative Spring Break; the MLK Scholar, Park Scholar and Leadership Scholar programs; the IC-Longview Partnership; and Big Brothers-Big Sisters.

“The Emerson Foundation is pleased to assist Ithaca College as it seeks to enrich the opportunities students have to partner with civic organizations in a meaningful way,” said Anthony D. Franceschelli, president of the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.

The Corporation for National and Community Service has consistently named Ithaca College to a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a designation recognizing colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.

“The Office of Civic Engagement will continue to build upon these successes as we further cement for our students the relationship between learning and its application for the greater public good,” said Hopson.

One of the largest institutional contributors in Ithaca’s history, the Emerson Foundation made its initial grant to the college in 1975 to establish an endowed scholarship fund. In the nearly four decades since, the Fred L. Emerson Endowed Scholarship and Internship Fund has been enhanced through additional gifts from the foundation and by contributions from friends, parents and alumni, including those who participated as Emerson Scholars. The foundation also provided funding to establish the Emerson Humanities Collaboration Award and the James J. Whalen Young Artist Award.

The Emerson Foundation is a fourth generation family philanthropy based in Auburn, New York. Founded in 1932 by the late Fred L. Emerson, president of the Dunn & McCarthy shoe company, the foundation continues to be a vigilant investor in selected organizations where it can make a critical and significant difference.

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