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Augsburg College earns Presidential Award for service learning and community service

honor_rollAugsburg College is one of six higher education institutions in the nation to receive┬áthe 2010 Presidential Award for Community Service, the highest honor in the annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is Augsburg’s first time receiving the top award in this program, making Augsburg the only Minnesota college or university to receive this honor. The College has been named to the Honor Roll with Distinction three times in the past.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions for their commitment to and achievement in community service. The President’s Honor Roll increases the public’s awareness of the contributions that colleges and their students make to local communities and the nation as a whole.

“Community service is embedded in the very notion of being an Auggie,” said Augsburg College President Paul C. Pribbenow. “Students at Augsburg represent many backgrounds and come from diverse faiths, countries, and life experiences. That richness is bound together in our shared commitment to serving our neighbor in our urban Minneapolis location or around the world.”

The Honor Roll recognizes more than 600 colleges and universities for exemplary, innovative, and effective community service programs. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses. Augsburg was selected for top honors from among more than 850 applicants.

“I’m very proud of the students and faculty of Augsburg and they should be proud of this Presidential Award,” said U.S. Sen. Al Franken. “Their dedication to serving their community stands as an example to other colleges and universities all over the country.”

The other Presidential Awardees are Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.; San Francisco State University; Loyola University in Chicago, Ill.; St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Tex.; and California State University in Monterey Bay, Calif.

Serving the Community

Much of Augsburg’s community service takes place in course-embedded service learning. At Augsburg, deliberate incorporation of experiential education, service-learning and civic engagement significantly enriches the curriculum and learning experiences of students, resulting in learners with broader worldviews and stronger neighboring communities. All incoming freshmen participate in City Service Day on the day before classes begin in the fall. Through City Service Day, course-based service-learning, and other programs, more than 1,700 students contributed nearly 200,000 hours of community service during the 2009-2010 school year.

Every year, more than 35 courses at Augsburg include a course-embedded service-learning component. Students average 25 hours per semester in service-learning experience directly connected to course objectives and learning goals. Augsburg’s service-learning partners are in schools and community organizations in the inner city of Minneapolis. The majority of these sites serve refugee and immigrant populations within a mile of the campus.

As further evidence of the College’s commitment to service, all 570 benefits eligible employees get two days paid leave each year to use for community service.

Student, faculty and staff volunteers (over 300 per year) serve approximately 2,000 meals per month through the Campus Kitchen at Augsburg College. This student-run program rescues surplus food from campus food service, food banks, local farmers and farmers’ markets and prepares it into meals for low-income community members. The program provides nutritious, balanced, and free meals to local community partners as well as nutrition education programming to youth organizations. This highly successful program is one of only 20 in the nation.

Augsburg College is in its third year of the Bonner Leaders Program. Through the program, students develop deep community relationships and engage in long-term policy advocacy throughout their four years at Augsburg College. The 40 Bonner Leaders were students with diverse ethnic and geographical backgrounds who took on unique community-leadership roles. Through service placements with non-profit community organizations, each student worked an average of 325 hours over the course of the academic year supporting ELL classrooms, running an employment education computer lab, coordinating a low-income housing program, providing community health outreach, and working with a financial literacy program. The Bonner Leaders have provided 13,000 hours of community service work in the last three years.

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