$70,000 Awarded for Innovative Service Models to be Integrated at Higher Education Institutions

April 15, 2016

Contact: MacKenzie Moritz
Managing Director, Partnerships
The Service Year Alliance

Prizes for the 2015 Service Year + Higher Education Innovation Challenge Awarded to
Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh

Washington, DC, April 15, 2016 –– The Service Year Alliance, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Campus Compact and the Lumina Foundation hosted the Service Year + Higher Ed Innovation Challenge on April 12, 2016 at the Aspen Institute. College and university finalists competed for prizes to support the planning and creation of new education-affiliated service year positions. The purpose of the Challenge is to promote innovative ideas related to the integration of learning and service during the college experience. Drexel University won in the private university category and received the audience choice award, winning $40,000. Prize money will support its UConnect program, in which students attend classes while complete a year of service acting as community navigators to connect Philadelphia residents to social services. The winning public institution, University of Pittsburgh received $30,000 for its proposal of a 3+1+3 program, through which students perform a year of service with local social entrepreneurs in between receiving an undergraduate degree in business and a law degree from Pitt Law. Lumina Foundation supported the prizes.

Gina Gendusa, Associate Director at the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, UConnect, said “It was such an honor to participate in the Service Year + Higher Ed Innovation Challenge with so many of our peers who are truly dedicated to incorporating service positions into the fabric of their university or college. The idea of connecting students with community-focused learning experiences is a priority at Drexel University as we see this as a major step on the pathway to becoming the life-long change agents and civic leaders that the world needs.”

On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh Audrey Murrell, Associate Dean of the College of Business Administration, and Stephanie Dangel, Executive Director of the School of Law’s Innovation Practice Institute said, “Integrating service into higher education is critically important to students, communities and higher education institutions. Students benefit from an engaging and meaningful learning environment that gives them real-world experience. Communities benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of students committed to service. And universities attract talented students who are anxious to serve communities, while also saving on the cost of higher education.”

Four additional schools participated as finalists in the challenge: Austin College, Averett University, University of Arkansas and Virginia Tech. For more information on the winners’ proposals and finalists’ proposals, visit: http://www.sychallenge.org/2016-challengefinalists/.

Finalists were invited to present their program concepts in person to a panel of judges, during an all-day event on April 12 at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.

Esteemed leaders participating as judges for the Challenge included: Shirley Sagawa, CEO of the Service Year Alliance, former Chief Service Officer of The National Conference on Citizenship and former Deputy Chief of Staff for First Lady Hillary Clinton; 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 Service Year Alliance Board Member; Andrew Seligsohn, President of Campus Compact; Holly Zanville, Strategy Director at the Lumina Foundation; Bill Basl, Director of AmeriCorps at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Video of the event can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEB5Zjc-2nQ.

This is the second year of the Service Year + Higher Ed Innovation Challenge. Last year, challenge winners were Drake University, Miami Dade College, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

About the Challenge Partners

The Service Year Alliance is an initiative of Be The Change and The Aspen Institute that seeks to make a year of national service – a service year – a common opportunity, cultural expectation and new civic rite of passage for young people growing up in America. This new organization was created through the recent merger of the Franklin Project, Service Nation, and the Service Year Exchange.

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov. CNCS also administers the Presidents Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. We are a network comprising a national office and 34 state and regional Campus Compacts. As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact enables campuses to develop students’ citizenship skills and forge effective community partnerships. Our resources support faculty and staff as they pursue community-based teaching and scholarship in the service of positive change.


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