UMass Dartmouth winner of national community service innovation challenge

Grant will fund community health initiative designed by Leduc Center for Civic Engagement and the College of Nursing

UMass Dartmouth is among three higher education institutions nationwide, and the only public university, to receive prestigious Higher Education Innovation Challenge grants to fund transformative community engagement initiatives. 

The Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute along with the National Conference on Citizenship and the Corporation for National and Community Service selected the winners, which also included Drake University and Miami Dade College. Each winner receives $30,000 to implement their proposal. 

UMass Dartmouth, through its Leduc Center for Civic Engagement and College of Nursing, plans to establish the Community Health Worker Advocate! Navigate! Educate! (CHW-ANE) service year. Students who are part of the College Now program, which assists students with the transition from high school to college through a first-year experience, will be trained as Community Health Workers. The goal is to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care by assisting patients with self-management of chronic illnesses, medication adherence, and navigation of the health care system. Five students will participate in the program in its first year and receive academic credit for their service and tuition waivers. 

Dr. Matthew Roy, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civic Engagement said: "Our Community Health Worker service year program is designed to empower students from our community to improve the health and well-being of our community by working with populations that need assistance in understanding healthy life choices or navigating the health care system. It will be transformational for students and community alike." 

Dr. Caitlin Stover in the College of Nursing's Department of Community Health played a lead role in designing the initiative. 

The prizes were made possible by the generous support of the Lumina Foundation and the winners were announced by Lumina CEO and President Jamie Merisotis. The purpose of the challenge was to generate innovative new ideas that integrated the service into the higher education experience. 

To be eligible for the challenge, institutions had to design a service year program that will result in academic credit, meet Service YearSM exchange certification criteria, be designed for sustainability, have the support of the institution's leadership, and provide a model for other similar post-secondary institutions. 

Nine finalists were invited to present their program concepts in person to a panel of judges, including potential funders, during an all-day event on April 15 at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. Esteemed leaders participating as judges for the Challenge include Holly Zanville, Strategy Director at Lumina Foundation; Maureen Curley, former President of Campus Compact; Harris Wofford, formerly US Senator, Special Assistant to President Kennedy, and the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service under President Clinton; Alan Khazei, Co-Founder of City Year, Founder & CEO of Be the Change, and Co-Chair, Franklin Project at The Aspen Institute; and Ted Miller, Chief of External Affairs at CNCS. 

The Challenge was hosted by John Bridgeland, former Director, White House Domestic Policy Council under President George W. Bush, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions under President Obama, and Co-Chair, Franklin Project at The Aspen Institute; and Shirley Sagawa, Chief Service Officer of the National Conference on Citizenship and former Deputy Chief of Staff for First Lady Hillary Clinton. 

"We challenged higher education to provide students opportunities for a year of civilian national service tied to learning and to ensure that "service year" translates into course credit. Americans always respond to a challenge --and 9 outstanding finalists have already developed innovative efforts to be launched in the coming years," said John Bridgeland. 

"These programs offer a rich set of models for ways that higher education institutions can advance student learning while building strong bridges to the community," said Shirley Sagawa. 
More information about the challenge can be found at: http://www.sychallenge.org/about-the-challenge/. 

Editor's Note: Photo Attached (L ro R: Caitlin Stover, Lumina CEO and President Jamie Merisotis, Matt Roy); Photo credit: Steve Johnson/The Aspen Institute


News and Public Information, College of Nursing