West Virginia Campus Compact received a $235,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for its Campus-Community LINK program.

West Virginia University will receive nearly 20 percent of that funding to help complete service learning projects with a community development focus throughout West Virginia.

The Campus-Community LINK project, which began in 2010 from another grant from the Benedum Foundation, allowed seven professors at WVU to help create and fund service-learning projects in their courses, and in turn is helping communities across the state to address problems.

“We are making sure that the relationships between communities and faculty that we’ve built with this grant are continuing, so that it’s not just a one-year project,” said Franchesca Nestor, director of West Virginia Campus Compact. “Through these long-term relationships, real change for communities and positive experiences for students are more likely.”

The WVU professors who have or are receiving grant funding are:

  • Rita Colistra, Journalism: Colistra’s students worked with the “Buy Local” campaign in Ritchie County. Colistra’s students will also be working on a Buy Local campaign for Fairmont this semester.
  • Brian Jara, Women’s Studies: Jara’s course will work to develop apps that benefit organizations serving women.
  • Margaret Stout, Public Administration: Stout’s course will work with the community of Moundsville on its community visioning and development efforts

Some projects take more than a semester to complete. The additional funding following the initial $250,000 from the Benedum Foundation in 2010 will help continue some of the already established programs from these seven professors and others across the state.

“With this, students are doing something that’s real. They are using what they’ve learned in the classroom to make actual change in the community,” Nestor said. “They feel much more engaged and committed to the work that they’re doing.”

After seven campuses took part in Campus-Community LINK in the first year, another three are expected to join, Nestor said.

Professors have $5,000 grants to spend on equipment, travel and other costs. In addition, a $1,000 stipend will be given to the faculty leader of the service project. State-wide, WVCC is aiming to create up to 40 classes.

Training for interested faculty members will take place in the spring. For those interested, contact Nestor at Franchesca.Nestor@mail.wvu.edu. Communities involved in the program receive additional training through the WV Community Development Hub; interested communities should contact the Hub.

WVCC, which has been around for 21 years in some capacity, helps create and promote all types of civic engagement at universities across the state through grant and networking opportunities. The organization works closely with administration, faculty and students to develop programs, as well.

WVCC is a network of 27 higher-education institutions that help fulfill the public mission of higher education. Any two-year public, four-year public and private institution in the state can be a part of the organization.

In 2009, WVU and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission came together to create a full-time director position and house the organization in Morgantown. Since then, the program has taken off.

Outside of the Campus-Community LINK forum, Campus Compact offers additional programs:

  • The VISTA program increases campus capacity for volunteer and service learning opportunities through a full-time staff member.
  • A student advisory board, composed of two students from each member school, meets three times per year to discuss ways to increase community service on campuses across the state.
  • CFWV Fellows program allows two-year and four-year schools in the state to partner and provides funding for two graduate assistants to provide information and opportunities for first-generation college and adult college students.
  • Grants are used for different holidays like this year’s Global Youth Service Day in April to help increase local youth community service.

Campus Compact is a national organization with state chapters. WVU hosts the state organization.

“WVU is proud to serve as the host campus for West Virginia Campus Compact,” said Kristi Wood-Turner, interim director of the WVU Center for Civic Engagement. “The programs and grant funding provided by WVCC ensures that WVU and the entire state of West Virginia remain on the forefront of service learning and co-curricular engagement.”

The grant was made through the WVU Foundation, the independent non-profit corporation that secures and administers private funding on behalf of WVU.

For more information on Campus Compact, visit its website at http://wvcampuscompact.org.



CONTACT: Franchesca Nestor, Director WV Campus Compact
304-293-7133, Franchesca.Nestor@mail.wvu.edu

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