CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa is one of 11 colleges and universities, and the only college in Iowa, to be recognized as a finalist for the Presidential Award in the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. This is the third year UNI has made the Honor Roll and the first year it has been named a finalist.
"This is a great honor for UNI and a strong example of our commitment to community engagement as outlined in our university strategic plan," said Ben Allen, UNI president. "Our faculty, staff and students perform a variety of community service activities related to education, business and community causes, especially those that serve high-need communities."
UNI has been named to the honor roll since 2008. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses and measurable community outcomes.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) admitted a total of 641 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Of that total, 511 were named to the Honor Roll; 114 received the recognition of Honor Roll with distinction; 11 were identified as finalists; and six received the Presidential Award.
College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector; in 2009, 3.2 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service, service valued at more than $6.4 billion.
Special projects for which UNI has been recognized as a finalist include:- Community and Economic Development Support in Northeast Waterloo, Iowa - northeast Waterloo has the highest concentration of poverty, unemployment and minority population in the metro area. UNI served approximately 500 individuals with community and economic development initiatives through neighborhood outreach and business development services. UNI actively leads community and economic development initiatives through the Waterloo Neighborhood Coalition, the Waterloo Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, the MyEntre.Net system and an east side Waterloo business incubator. MyEntre.Net is an online community that includes 175 northeast Waterloo entrepreneurs. The program has added 23 jobs in the past year. UNI's incubator opened in 2001, and 42 businesses have graduated into the downtown area, filling18,000 square feet of space and creating 157 FTE jobs.
- UNI Center for Urban Education (UNI-CUE) - the center serves as an education vehicle for students in Waterloo, Iowa, in kindergarten through 12th grade, their families and community residents to realize educational and professional goals. The center is open to youth and adults wishing to receive education, career counseling and college courses. A few examples of UNI-CUE programs include a free tutoring center for students in grades three through 12; UNI-CUE's annual Back-to-School Supplies Project, which provided 1,200 low-income families with school supplies; and UNI-CUE's Classic Upward Bound Program, which serves 99 low-income, first-generation college students with after-school and summer programs. Eighty-seven faculty, staff and students work and volunteer with UNI-CUE. More than 15,200 people utilize the center annually.
-Rites of Passage: Empowering African American Youth - was a two-year program developed and led by a UNI faculty member who met with African-American girls and boys, grades three through eight, who were considered at-risk. UNI undergraduate students helped plan the weekly lessons. The sessions included activities to build self-esteem and self-concept as well as cultural, social and emotional experiences. Every student in the Rites of Passage program showed measurable academic and behavioral growth. Examples include improved grades and significantly decreased behavior referrals and suspensions.
The Honor Roll is a program of the CNCS, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. For a complete list of Honor Roll recipients, visit www.NationalService.gov/HonorRoll.
The CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. The agency leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov/.