A recent “Success Story” piece on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Networks site titled: “Minnesota’s First Model Center Lives Up to Its Name,” highlights effective community engagement by two MNCC member campuses, Concordia University, St. Paul and Hamline University. In 2003, a grant from MNCC’s Community Service-Learning & Campus-Community Collaboration Initiatives grant program to a partnership between the Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation and Concordia University helped to establish the PLUS Time program. In 2005, Hamline University’s McVay Youth Partnership (Youth VOICE) program began serving Liberty Plaza, funded by a generous endowment from the McVay Family Foundation. We are excited to see how these programs continue to help K-12 students in St. Paul schools.
To help students in grades K-5 achieve greater academic success, the Liberty Plaza Resource Center and Concordia University St. Paul created PLUS (Playful Learning with University Students) Time, an afterschool academic enrichment program that serves between 100 to 200 children per year. For PLUS Time, students from Concordia University majoring in education provide one-on-one and group tutoring, and the positive results are evident.
“Muhammad, who spoke no English, recently moved to Liberty Plaza with his family,” explained Crowley. “Within a few weeks, his English blossomed. We thought that perhaps he was in a special school program for ELL students. However, we later discovered that the extra support he received through PLUS Time greatly contributed to the English skills he acquired so quickly.”
Crowley tells of another student who attended PLUS Time, as well as Youth-VOICE (Vision, Opportunity, Interaction, Community, Empowerment). This center program for students in grades 6-8 combines academic enrichment, relationship building, and community service. Hamline University students help youth improve academic proficiencies, bolster self-esteem, and foster a commitment to community service.
After participating in Youth-VOICE, a young man moved on to the center’s multi-faceted leadership/personal development program for junior and senior high school students that pairs older youth mentors with younger students. The young man bonded with the student volunteers from Hamline University, graduated from high school, applied to the college, and was accepted. He now volunteers with Youth-VOICE so he can give back to the community that supported him throughout school. Read the full article