Between 2004 and 2012, the Foundation will have granted $9.4 million to support the introduction and growth of community service-learning programs through its National University-Based Community Service-Learning (CSL) initiative. In addition to the ten universities we have funded directly, another 30 have launched programs with support from other funders. Along with significant growth in the number of participating students and faculty, the best of these programs create new, beneficial relationships between post-secondary institutions and their community partners.
The Foundation has learned a great deal about the relative merits of different approaches. Short term service placements provide an effective, low risk means of introducing students to the community sector, while deeper commitments to such programs contribute to the vitality and resilience of local communities – and to the relevance of academic work. The Foundation’s publication, "Getting Wisdom," written by Silver Donald Cameron, profiles some outstanding examples of community leaders and professors collaborating with multidisciplinary teams of students on large scale projects, ensuring a rich exchange of learning and experience.
In 2011, we launched an annual CSL Awards program to celebrate the most innovative CSL initiatives, while encouraging post-secondary institutions and communities to continue the promising work that has begun. This also marked the Foundation’s transition from being a direct funder of CSL programs to being a partner in the engagement with communities and post-secondary institutions.
Following a call for nominations, a selection committee comprised of community members, instructors, and students will recommend up to four awards annually for innovation in community service-learning. The awards will go to community projects that are being jointly supported by community organizations and post-secondary institutions through CSL. A total of $30,000 is available for up to four awards of $7,500 each. In addition, their accomplishments will be celebrated in a video and at a national event.