Knox College Selected for Community Service Award

March 26, 2010

Students volunteer at blood driveFor the second consecutive year, Knox College has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for commitment to community service.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that runs AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America, administers the Honor Roll program.

Institutions are selected to the Honor Roll if they have developed programs and projects that are judged to be "meaningful, relevant and exemplary." The honorees are picked on the basis of several factors, including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which schools offer academic service-learning courses.

Knox College has a long-standing tradition of community service, and the college offers an array of programs enabling students to volunteer their time to help others.

"The Honor Roll is important because it celebrates the establishment of ongoing community partnerships between Knox College and local organizations in Galesburg," said Kathleen Ridlon, director of the college's Center for Community Service.

The center's statistics show that during the 2008-2009 academic year, Knox College students spent 9,046 hours on volunteer projects in the community.

"Being a volunteer gives students the opportunity to make a connection within the community where they live. It also gives them ‘hands-on' experience with subjects they are studying as a college student," Ridlon said.

"Given the current job market awaiting soon-to-be graduates, demonstrating community involvement, volunteer work and work-related experiences provides added credentials to student resumes," she added.

Volunteer projects and programs at Knox include:

_ Best Buddies, a program that pairs up Knox students and adults in the community who have intellectual disabilities. They develop friendships by getting together regularly for conversation, meetings and social outings. A total of 13 Knox students made a one-year commitment to Best Buddies, which is a community partnership with St. Mary's Square Living Center in Galesburg. The students donated 438 service hours.

_ Various service projects involving students in the Knox College Educational Studies Department. They volunteered in school classrooms and afterschool programs, acting as teacher assistants and as role models for children. The 254 students reported a total of 6,375 service-learning hours.

_ "Put Galesburg Schools Back on the Map," a special student-initiated project that teamed up members of Knox College's Sigma Chi fraternity with Silas Willard Elementary School in Galesburg. More than a dozen fraternity members volunteered as third-grade classroom helpers, and they also coordinated an auction of children's artwork that raised almost $2,000 to supply classrooms with maps and globes.

_ Individual student involvement with Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the American Red Cross, plus volunteer time contributed by members of Knox's fraternities and sororities.

"This is an excellent example of student leadership," Ridlon said.

Knox was one of six Associated Colleges of the Midwest institutions to receive Honor Roll recognition. ACM is a consortium of academically excellent, independent liberal arts colleges in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

"Knox College and other ACM institutions provide the kind of environment that encourages students to become involved in their communities," Ridlon said.

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which began in 2006, was created with two main purposes in mind. It heightens public awareness of the contributions that colleges and their students make to their local communities and the nation through volunteer service. The Honor Roll also spotlights model community service programs and practices in higher education.

More than 700 colleges and universities across the country were chosen for the Honor Roll based on student volunteer service that occurred during the 2008-2009 academic year.

The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the Honor Roll program, working with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.

Patrick Corvington, the corporation's chief executive officer, congratulated the institutions and students "for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities."

"Our nation's students are a critical part of the equation and vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face," Corvington added.