Providence, R.I. – For the fifth consecutive year, Providence College has been chosen to the Corporation for National and Community Service President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
To be named to the Honor Roll, a school must demonstrate that its students, faculty, and staff are engaged in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.
Several key offices and departments were highlighted in the Honor Roll for 2011, including The Feinstein Institute for Public and Community Service, Campus Ministry, and the Office of Student Activities-Involvement-Leadership (S.A.I.L.).
Another focal point of community service considered was the existence and work of the College’s Standing Committee on Service, created by Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 in 2008. Each department represented on the standing committee has provided support and collaboration by collecting service data of PC students each semester.
Other factors examined for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll membership include exemplary projects that had measurable impacts on the community at PC, some of those projects were Smith Hill Recreation Night (Rec Night), Habitat for Humanity, Urban Action Program, and EXPLORE!
Rec Night is a collaborative effort of PC’s Feinstein Institute, the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence (ISPN), the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, the Providence Recreation Department and the Providence Police Department. The Feinstein Institute and ISPN are the lead organizers. Started in 2008, Rec Night involves one evening each week when 75-80 youth from the Smith Hill neighborhood and the Chad Brown housing project, gather at a local park or rec center for sports, break dancing, tutoring, conversation, and pizza. Many participants are gang affiliated. Rec Night offers the youth a hospitable, safe space. Since the start of this program, emerging conflicts are more easily identified and mediated; the youth have a greater number of positive adults consistently in their lives; and a number of the youth have been steered towards positive activities such as a summer jobs program.
In 2011, approximately 150 students were involved in the PC Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which provides affordable housing for low-income families. Students collaborated with the Rhode Island affiliate of Habitat for Humanity on a “Saturday Builds Program” to provide direct service work for families near the college. Approximately 40 students participated in the program, providing an estimated 300 hours of service for people in need of housing. During spring break, 114 students participated on 12 service trips to 9 different states, each collaborating with a Habitat affiliate. These students performed an estimated 20,000 hours of service work on houses for low-income families. The spring break trips were subsidized by a generous $27,000 grant from the Angell Foundation, which supports many PC programs.
Urban Action was launched in 1991, with 17 students volunteering the first year. The program offers incoming freshmen an opportunity to spend their first days in Rhode Island's capital city of Providence improving the community that will be their "home away from home" for the next four years. Incoming freshmen are invited to apply during the summer orientation program. The program has grown to the point where now 150 students are selected to participate each year. Led by 25 upperclassmen, these freshmen spend three days working - rain or shine - on outdoor and indoor service projects important to the Providence community. In 2010, Urban Action partnered with the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy, a non-profit whose mission is to preserve the land of Neutaconkanut Hill, the only nature preserve in the city for future generations. Since its inception, Urban Action has continued to thrive under the direction of student leaders, who have trained their successors with a passion for growing the program. Since 1991, more than 3,000 students have volunteered thousands of community service hours to Urban Action, with many returning each year as upperclassmen leaders.
The mission of the EXPLORE! program is to promote awareness of, access to, and readiness for college and career among first generation local urban high school students while, at the same time, supporting and enhancing the educational experiences of PC students. The program includes weekly on-site after-school programming throughout the academic year and four days of PC campus programs for high school students and their parents in spring semester. In the fall semester, PC students visit the schools to engage in a variety of formal and informal programming structured around a unique college readiness curriculum. In summary, the EXPLORE! weekly programming curriculum is designed to target key aspects of youth identity and skill development so that the youth engaged in this program can identify, pursue, and achieve their goals in life.
The corporation selects its annual list of honorees based on the scope and innovation of the school’s service projects, the percentage of student participation in community service, and the extent to which a college offers academic service-learning courses. Additionally, applicants are required to have at least seven percent of allotted work-study funds committed to off-campus nonprofit organizations and schools.