Monthly Archives: November 2010

Exploring rural service-learning with RASL

by John Hamerlinck

I recently attended the 2nd annual Rural Alliance for Service Learning (RASL) Summit in Racine, Wisconsin. RASL formed last year when a group of about 25 people met to discuss both the opportunities and the challenges related to engaging higher education institutions in meaningful partnerships in support of rural communities.

This year’s Summit focused on a collaborative research project being led by Randy Stoecker from the University of Wisconsin, and funded in part, by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.  The research includes a literature review on the limited rural-specific service-learning research that exists, a number of folks writing case studies about rural service-learning projects (You can read my case studies on projects assisted by the Gustavus Adolphus/St. Peter Partnership Council, and the Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota Morris, on the RASL site), and a white paper that outlines what we’ve learned and where we want to go next.

The white paper will be academic, but straightforward. It will be interdisciplinary, informative, and hopefully contain enough ideas to encourage lots of effective practice in the field. The paper should be published early next year.

For Aspiring Student Social Entrepreneurs!

Interested in Social Entrepreneurship? Meet other young innovators from Minnesota while working together with experts to design and launch social ventures that address issues affecting our local, national and global communities.

Ashoka’s Youth Venture in launching Venture Lab on November 20th at the University of St. Thomas, as a Global Entrepreneurship Week event to support students in using entrepreneurial principles to tackle social issues.  Venture Lab is open exclusively to undergraduate students. Participating teams are eligible for up to $1,000 in seed funding and a chance to compete for an additional $10,000 in a nation-wide competition organized by Youth Venture with support from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Over 3,000 Venture Teams worldwide have started businesses, organizations and informal programs and initiatives.

Example Team

Cycles is a bicycle-run delivery service based in urban farmers markets. Co-founders Michelle and Ashley created the delivery service in order to encourage new customers to shop at the markets and current customers to purchase more, thus increasing support for local organic farmers and their ethical and environmentally sustainable farming practices. The delivery service will provide customers with a convenient and carbon emissions-free way to transport their purchases home. Michelle and Ashley plan to develop a sustainable business model that can be replicated in other urban farmers markets around New York City.

Students of all majors are encouraged to attend the event.  Visit for more information or email to share your idea.

Youth Venture is a program of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Ashoka sources the best social innovations, mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people to create change, and enables businesses, the media, policy makers and “changemakers” to work together to create global impact.