Dordt College News

Dordt College volunteers benefit local community

August 2, 2005

An annual Campus Compact Survey reports that 950 colleges and universities participating in this year’s study (including Dordt College) provided more than $4 billion dollars worth of volunteer service to the cities in which they are located last year.

According to the 2004 survey, more than 30 percent of students in the colleges surveyed performed four hours of community service each week. Using the latest Independent Sector figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, each student’s volunteer work would be valued at $2,246.40 for the ’04-’05 school year.

At Dordt College, three service programs match volunteers with opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. Last year COP (Community Outreach Program) matched 27 students with agencies and ministries in the Sioux Center area; PLIA (Putting Love In Action) offered spring break projects at 12 ministry sites across the U.S. to 108 students; and AMOR (A Mission OutReach) enabled a team of 10 students to do a work project in Nicaragua and another team of 10 students to work in the Dominican Republic.

For some Dordt students, volunteer projects directly support and enhance their classroom learning, giving hands-on experience related to their studies. Teacher education students volunteer at Head Start, daycare centers, and local schools. Social work students have volunteered in a variety of social service agencies, nursing homes, and hospitals. Students have also given their time at a regional substance abuse center, the domestic violence intervention center, and at local residences for persons with disabilities.

The Campus Compact survey reported that 89 percent of participating colleges said service and/or civic engagement is part of their mission statement. At Dordt College, the mission statement expresses its “desire to be an institution of Reformed, Christian learning for the benefit of both students and the broader community by providing serviceable insight to prepare students for competent, obedient service in all aspects of contemporary life.”

The survey indicated that nonprofit organizations receive the greatest benefit from campus-community volunteerism (95 percent), followed by K-12 schools (90 percent), and faith-based organizations (62 percent). Seventy-seven percent of campuses surveyed also offered alternative service break opportunities.

Overall, the survey results show that service, service-learning, and civic engagement have not only become a standard facet of the higher education experience but are continuing to advance. This year’s survey includes a five-year trend data, which indicates consistent and impressive increases in engagement on campuses. Among campuses responding each year, the proportion of students involved in service increased from 33 percent in 2001 to 40 percent in 2004. Similarly, the proportion of campuses with a service or service-learning office increased from 75 percent to 92 percent between 2000 and 2004. During the same time period, the average number of faculty who teach service-learning courses nearly tripled, from 14 per campus to 40.

In addition to stepping up overall participation in service, students are also increasingly involved in decision-making and administrative processes that maintain service and civic engagement programs. Among other work, students serve on relevant committees (80 percent), work in community service/service-learning offices (73 percent), and act as liaisons to community agencies (67 percent). These results speak to how campuses are involving students in taking responsibility for their civic engagement activity, preparing them to be active members of our democracy.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 950 college and university presidents - representing some 5 million students - dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement, and service-learning in higher education. To support this mission, Campus Compact promotes service initiatives that develop students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provides resources and practical guidance for faculty seeking to integrate civic engagement into their teaching and research.

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