2016 2016: UMass Dartmouth earns top 20 national ranking for civic engagement for fourth straight year

2016 2016: UMass Dartmouth earns top 20 national ranking for civic engagement for fourth straight year
UMass Dartmouth earns top 20 national ranking for civic engagement for fourth straight year

University earns national finalist designation for economic opportunity initiatives, and national distinction for general community service, education, and interfaith efforts

Youth Summit students prepare food to be distributed around the world.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the fourth straight year UMass Dartmouth has earned a national top 20 ranking on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. A total of 766 institutions of thousands nationwide received rankings by the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS).

UMass Dartmouth was one of four higher education institutions in the nation to be designated a finalist in the economic opportunity category, one of four categories established by the CNCS. UMass Dartmouth was also awarded national distinction status in the general community service, education, and interfaith efforts. UMass Dartmouth is one of only two New England institutions to achieve a top 20 ranking.

“Civic engagement is integral to the teaching, learning, and research that occurs here at UMass Dartmouth,” said interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm. “Not only do these initiatives help strengthen the economic, cultural and social fabric of the community, they create life-changing opportunities for our students to develop the skills and knowledge that every citizen needs.”

UMass Dartmouth students annually perform more than 230,000 hours of community service, valued at nearly $7 million.

Dr. Matt Roy, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civic Engagement, added: “From harvesting crops for regional food pantries to creating marketing plans for non-profits to providing low-cost legal assistance for people at risk, our students and faculty are having an enormous impact on the quality of life beyond the campus.”

Since 2009, the number of students exposed to a service learning experience (a credit-bearing course where community-based service is embedded in the class), has grown from 3,378 per semester to 6,333. The number of faculty teaching service learning classes has grown from 96 to 159. Now over 80% of UMass Dartmouth graduates have at least one service-learning experience.

A sample of UMass Dartmouth’s civic engagement activity includes:

AmericaREADS and Counts: Last year, more than 200 students provided more than 24,000 hours of tutoring and mentoring to at-risk elementary school students in New Bedford and Fall River.

Sharing the Harvest: The Graduate Senate Student and the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement helped harvest thousands of pounds of produce at the Dartmouth YMCA Farm to be sent to area food pantries.

The annual Leduc Center for Civic Engagement Youth Summit teaches hundreds of area high school and middle school students how to effectively engage in the community. The Summit also includes an effort to distribute food to thousands of people worldwide.

MLK Day of Service - More than 500 students and residents served more than 1,500 hours in an interfaith day of service at Gifts to Give, where surplus clothing, books, and toys are recycled, re-purposed and gifted to children and families in need.

The School of Law’s Justice Bridge program has established legal service incubators in New Bedford and Boston to provide legal help to people who cannot afford such help.

The South Coast Development Partnership is a UMass Dartmouth-based coalition of education, business and civic leaders working to foster area innovation and entrepreneurship.

The School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) in New Bedford, focuses its research on sustainable fisheries, coastal protection, and climate change.

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship helps early-stage companies grow and mature. More than 20 such companies are now located at the incubator.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts has a major facility in downtown New Bedford, attracting $90 million of investment to the area and serving as a creative economy catalyst.

The School of Education has multiple programs focused on developing school leaders and improving educational attainment in the region.

Alternative Spring Break programs sent students to local area organizations for interfaith service activities, to North Carolina to build homes for people in need, and to Guatemala improve water systems last year.

The College of Nursing Bridging the Atlantic program exchanges students and faculty with the Azores to focus on community health issues.

At the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, students and faculty create custom technical solutions for clients with physical challenges.

The Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture connects the university to the largest concentration of Portuguese-Americans in the country.

The Center for Marketing Research creates students teams to assist small businesses and non-profits with marketing efforts.