Monthly Archives: March 2012

Congratulations to Minnesota’s 2012 Civic Newman Fellows!

Angela Bonfiglio

Angela Bonfiglio, a junior at Augsburg College, works in many ways to create a more just society. Angela rebuilt the campus service organization, doubling its membership while deepening issue-based work. In North Minneapolis, Angela is researching community perceptions on the achievement gap and working to close that gap. She coordinates an afterschool program at Redeemer Lutheran Church to ensure that youth have dependable adults, homework help, and dinner. Angela is dedicated to social justice, including environmental work, youth development, interfaith work, and racial equality.

Angela Bonfiglio demonstrates her civic leadership through a wide array of efforts on and off campus. She focuses on addressing systemic change and root causes of social issues. As a sophomore, Angela reorganized Community LINK, a student organization that engages students in service projects and connects students with issue based work. Angela activated dozens of new students, deepened her understanding of social issues in neighboring communities, most notably, poverty, literacy, education, and racial inequality. Angela amplifies her efforts by engaging others, and directly contributes to the leadership development of fellow students. Angela has done community based research on Interfaith Youth Work and is researching community perceptions on the achievement gap. She coordinates an afterschool program at Redeemer Lutheran Church in the north Minneapolis Harrison neighborhood where she built an infrastructure for young people to take leadership roles and see themselves differently than they do in other areas of their lives. Angela’s primary motivation comes from her faith. She is self-directed, accountable to her partners, a natural leader, organizer, and mentor. Angela continually makes space for others to take leadership roles. She seeks feedback on her own performance, and is not afraid to raise controversy when she’s doing the right thing.

Margaret Crenshaw

Margaret Crenshaw is a junior at Hamline University majoring in social justice and education. Margaret is president of Hand in Hand, a mentorship program pairing Hamline students with elementary school students at Hancock-Hamline University Collaborative Magnet School. Margaret is also a senior fellow of the McVay Youth Partnership where she plans and leads programming for Karen middle and high school youth. She also researched Karen refugee students in the Twin Cities, was an MPIRG student leader, and taught English as a second language at St. Paul’s Neighborhood House. She also has completed community-based collaborative research on Karen refugee students in the Twin Cities, was an MPIRG student leader, and taught English as a second language at St. Paul’s Neighborhood House.

Her exemplary work on campus and in the community shows her strong, civic commitment to creating educational opportunity for all. Margaret leads by taking direct action and mobilizing the knowledge, skills and relationships she has built at Hamline University toward positive social change. Currently, Margaret serves as president of Hand in Hand, a mentorship program pairing Hamline students with elementary school students at Hancock-Hamline University Collaborative Magnet School. In 2011-2012, almost 100 Hamline students participated in Hand in Hand. Margaret is also a senior fellow of the McVay Youth Partnership where she plans and leads programming for Karen refugee middle and high school youth as part of McVay’s after-school mentorship program. Based on her commitment to the Karen community, Margaret completed a community-based collaborative research project entitled “Karen Refugee Students’ Academic and Social Experiences in Twin Cities K-12 Schools,” which she presented at two conferences. Margaret supports campus-wide dialogue about race and racism as a student leader on Hamline’s National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) team, was an MPIRG student leader, and taught English as a second language at St. Paul’s Neighborhood House

Pertesia Gadson

Pertesia Gadson has engaged in a variety of volunteer and research activities related to social justice and health disparities during her time at the University of Minnesota Rochester. As an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Health Sciences and a career in medicine, Pertesia mentors at-risk youth, recruits other students to volunteer, and has conducted research about risky behaviors among youth and teens.

Pertesia Gadson is a second year student at the University of Minnesota Rochester pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree. She aspires to continue her education in medical school, where she can continue to address issues related to social justice and health disparities. For the past year and a half, Pertesia has volunteered at the Salvation Army Medical and Dental Clinic in Rochester, MN and with Miracle Empowerment Center in Minneapolis, MN. Pertesia was selected to join UMR’s Students in Service AmeriCorps program and completed more than 450 hours of service over the course of one year. As one of the co-founders of a campus resource called Raptor Recruits, she acts as a peer advisor to help engage other students in community-based work. Lastly, Pertesia worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota last summer, and conducted research focusing on teens, alcohol use, and risky behavior. She has recently begun working with Justice and Opportunity for Youth (JOY) to mentor the highest-risk youth in Rochester. Pertesia understands the deep-seeded causes of systemic injustice; she has demonstrated tremendous courage and resiliency throughout her life and as a student pursing her dream of becoming a physician.

Pertesia Gadson has engaged in a variety of volunteer and research activities related to social justice and health disparities during her time at the University of Minnesota Rochester. As a student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and a career in medicine, Pertesia’s volunteer experiences have involved working with under-served community members and mentoring at-risk youth, as well as helping to build organizational capacity to serve these populations. She actively recruits other students to become engaged in community issues through volunteerism, and has conducted public health research to learn about risky behaviors among youth and teens.

Molly Kalina

Molly Kalina is studying to be a teacher, and she strongly believes that education is the key to addressing the root causes of issues.  Molly has been part of the College of Saint Benedict‘s service sorority, acted as a mentor and tutor for underprivileged youth, and assisted several teachers in local schools and even in a primary school in South Africa. She participates in the Bonner Leader Program for student service leaders.

She is a firm believer in taking time to educate everyone, whether it be in the classroom, at a new job training, or in everyday experiences. She believes that education gives people the tools to succeed. In addition to being passionate about education, she also is involved in other social issues (like sex trafficking, domestic abuse, and hunger) through her involvement in the Bonner Leader Program. Molly has planned events to get others informed and involved in these causes as well as researching the issues, holding fundraisers for relevant organizations, and attending a national leadership conference with other civically engaged college students. She is a very dedicated and caring person with the necessary motivation to work diligently for a problem she believes needs to be solved. Her past experience and strong leadership skills will help her work with others to make a difference in the future.

During her time in college, Molly has been part of the College of Saint Benedict’s service sorority, acted as a mentor and tutor for underprivileged youth, and assisted several teachers in local schools. She participates in the Bonner Leader Program, which has allowed her to become even more involved in service and civic engagement on campus and in the community. She is currently in South Africa volunteering at a primary school in an extremely poor area. Molly says that her time at CSB has opened her eyes to a whole new set of social issues.

Amee Vang

Amee Vang is a junior majoring in Math Education and with a minor in Women’s Studies at St. Cloud State University. She uses creative, ambitious and powerful strategies to support social change and justice in racial, immigration and women’s rights. Vang is the fundraising chair of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, St. Cloud chapter (12 in the nation), a member of the Hmong Student Organization (former treasurer) and Women’s Action at SCSU. She is also the co-director of the 2012 V-Day event, The Vagina Monologues, and has volunteered many hours of service to ensure a successful event knowing that performance art is a powerful tool and that fundraising is essential to social change efforts.

Vang participated in legislative briefings and lobbied in Washington, DC in January 2012 for NAPAWF; organizes events and initiatives to promote sexual assault and stalking awareness, pay equity and reproductive justice and is an invaluable staff member of the SCSU Women’s Center doing programming, developing educational campaigns, assisting students, advertising events and more.

Her leadership success is framed by passion, hard work, self-awareness and knowledge, as well as use of political structures, campus and community organizing, and performance art.

The Starling Project

By Beth Evanson

Starling Project at 2401 University Ave

The Starling Project is a new volunteer-run organization comprised of University of Minnesota design and urban planning graduate students. Gaining real-life experience outside of the classroom and making a positive impact in their community, the students are driven by the opportunity to stimulate community and economic vitality on University Avenue in St. Paul.  Many storefronts on the Avenue are vacant, due in part to Central Corridor Light Rail construction. Increased vacancy rates create a downward spiral as the remaining businesses draw fewer customers. This has a negative impact on the surrounding community. Turning that cycle around, matching building owners of vacant spaces with people who are looking for “nesting” spaces – short-term opportunities to try out new businesses, galleries, or other types of workspace – Starling members are enthusiastically interested in the success of Central Corridor LRT and its surrounding neighborhoods.

The Starling program model has developed over the past sixth months in an applied and somewhat organic way, adapting as community needs arise and suggest changes, yet always remains in close communication with the community organizations in the neighborhoods in which they are working. Generating and seeking input from advisory partnerships neighborhood councils, community development corporations, and a number of other business, arts and neighborhood organizations, the team members are always looking for untapped opportunities.

 

The Project coordinated its first storefront rental in February on University near Raymond Avenue, finding a home for a mobile video projection class in which to project its students’ work. The event , open to the public, was a success, bringing in artists, families, and other community members for a night of fun, interactive video art displays. The work of the students also brought visible signs of life to the exterior of the building; video was projected onto the storefront, creating interest for passersby and lighting up the storefront’s windows, which have remained dark while the space has been vacant for nearly a year.

 

The Starling Project at 2401 University Ave

Starling’s project model, though continually evolving as it grows, utilizes two primary methods of work. One method focuses on making individual matches between property owners and prospective tenants, for short or longer term leases. The other method grows out of collaborations with community-based organizations (including district councils and CDCs), in order to identify ways that vacant space can support goals they and their constituents have for their stretch of University Avenue. These two methods are both valuable and consequently interdependent. Opening the door for individual matches broadens the pool of prospective tenants and uses. Communication and collaboration with community-based organizations ensures that these uses are vetted with the neighborhood, builds relationships between these neighborhood organizations and property owners, and supports the planning and visioning work already being done by these organizations.

 

If you’re interested in renting a space or want to get involved yourself, or if you have ideas to share with Starling, check out their website at www.starlingproject.com. The website continues to evolve and grow along with the team’s efforts; soon it will provide listings for the available storefront spaces.  In the meantime, contact the team directly at hello@starlingproject.com.

Contact Theory’s Guidance for Good Community Engagement

Even with all the emphasis on assessing outcomes these days, it’s still important to pay attention to the existing theoretical research that should guide our work from the start.  Joseph A. Erickson, Professor of Education at Augsburg College, recently shared key insights from social psychology at a MNCC gathering.  Whether or not a course or program explicitly aims to develop students’ attitudes and beliefs as well as their skills and knowledge (something teacher education programs do), it carries a responsibility to do no harm—including not unintentionally increasing prejudice and stereotyping.

Research on Contact Theory over the last 70 years has identified five conditions through which face-to-face contact can improve understanding between members of different social groups:

  • Equal status contact – the extent to which people have comparatively equal social status – something that may be difficult to achieve in a service context, but can be promoted through a focus on everyone’s assets, the principle of equity, and the aim of reciprocity or mutual benefit
  • Pursuit of common goals – the extent to which people are working towards a unified goal, even if they are performing different tasks to contribute to that goal – a point that relates to the good practice of shared power and vision in community partnerships (and including youth voice, when engaging with youth)
  • Intergroup cooperation – the manner in which people recognize their own and others’ identities and perceive a constructive relationship between them – and which recent research suggests must first involve rousing a sense of identity among participants by inviting reflection and analysis of their own personal and social identities and the larger context in which they are situated
  • Support of authorities, custom or law – the presence of a larger culture and context demonstrating commitment to respect for all through anti-discrimination policies, diversity training, etc. – which reminds us that we teach not only in formal educational settings but also in the ways we operate and model (or don’t model) what we aim to teach
  • Long-term contact – interactions that are substantial, not superficial, in intensity or duration or both – which underscores the importance of developing experiences that extend beyond a single course (through engaged departments, for instance, multi-course partnerships with a single organization, minors/certificates or community engagement scholars programs), except when courses include significant work in community

Recent research has also revealed the important role of affect, particularly anxiety, in facilitating or inhibiting attitude change.  By intentionally providing students with opportunities for preparation and reflection that reduce anxiety, the faculty, staff, and community partners seeking to engage students will allow them to be open to new people and ideas.

Even when these conditions are in place, authentic, positive change in students’ dispositions is far from guaranteed.  People don’t change easily.  In fact, the guiding principle of perception is that we see what we expect to see, so experience without deep reflection will reinforce biases.  All of this reinforces the principles of good practice already well-known in the field – and the potential consequences.  As Dr. Erickson writes, “if we don’t meet the minimum necessary conditions laid out in Contact Theory, we risk making matters worse rather than better. ”

For more details and references, see Dr. Erickson’s PowerPoint and chapter in The Future of Service-Learning, available at http://web.augsburg.edu/~erickson/MCC2012/.

Five Questions for: Patrice Bailey

Mr. Patrice Bailey is the new Assistant Director of Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Bethel University.  In that role, he coordinates the Frogtown Summit-University Partnership, “connecting the needs of the community and the services and talents of the students to the Frogtown community, building relationships that will serve both Bethel University and its students and faculty.”  Previously he taught Global Citizenship, a service-learning first course for all students, at Minnesota School of Business in Richfield.  Originally from Harlem, New York, he holds a Masters of Science degree in Agricultural Education from Iowa State University.
What drew you to this work?
What drew me to service-learning was to speak to students about becoming global citizens in their local communities and to be a part of seeing students, faculty and staff go deeper than ever before in their vocation.
How did your own college experience shape where you are today?
I went to Prairie View A&M University in Texas, an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). My time there was very eye-opening in which I was able to understand more about myself but also understand my place in the major I was studying and really being open to understand difference in a whole new light.
Who or what has been inspiring you recently?
Great question, I would say Randy Pausch has inspired me greatly from the Last Lecture.
What question do you wrestle with most?
Why are some faculty still on edge or the fence about service-learning in a social networking world?
What book (or movie or music) would you recommend everyone read (or see or hear), and why?
As for a book, I would say The Last Lecture and Family by J. California Cooper, and movie I would say Courageous.

Minnesota Campuses Recognized on President’s Honor Roll

The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education today announced the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recipients for 2012. We are proud to say that  19 Minnesota Campus Compact members are among the 642 campuses recognized from across the country.President's Honor Roll The five Presidential Awardees (the highest honor) are all members of the national Campus Compact network.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic
engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve.

The Minnesota Campuses honored this year are listed below. Congratulations to all of you!

Honor Roll with Distinction

  • Augsburg College
  • College of St. Benedict
  • Metropolitan State University
  • University of Minnesota Crookston
  • Winona State University

Honor Roll

  • Carleton College
  • Central Lakes College
  • Century College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hamline University
  • Inver Hills Community College
  • Macalester College
  • Normandale Community College
  • North Hennepin Community College
  • St. Catherine University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • St. John’s University
  • St. Olaf College
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities