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North Park University Awarded Illinois Campus Connect Grant

Illinois Campus Compact and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Key component of grant includes University civic engagement center

CHICAGO (August 2, 2012) — Illinois Campus Compact awarded North Park University a McCormick Strategic Civic Leader Fellowship grant to help the University expand existing outreach programs and lay the groundwork for a civic engagement center housed on the North Park University campus.

The fellowship includes a $7,000 seed grant for one year beginning in August 2012. Rich Kohng, urban outreach coordinator in North Park's University Ministries, explained that the idea behind the grant is to more fully embrace one of the University's core values — "intentionally urban." Other University core values are "distinctively Christian" and "purposefully multicultural."

"We have a lot of people on campus doing different things, and this can be a hub through which we can engage the urban context," Kohng said. A civic engagement center at the University would likely include three components, he said. They are:

  • A curricular component, which may lead to offering majors and minors related to urban engagement.
  • An engagement component, which encourages students, faculty, and staff to volunteer in different service organizations and to get involved in the community in different ways.
  • A research component, which promotes faculty and student work on projects regarding issues pertinent to the local community.

Kohng hopes that the grant will enable the University to offer more service-learning opportunities. Already the University has nearly 20 partnerships with community service organizations, and at least 150 students regularly volunteering with local organizations who serve more than 400 people a week. "The idea is we can enhance that through service-learning. Professors can offer courses that have a service component written into their classes. Students will be able to earn credit as they serve and do this as part of their coursework," Kohng said.

The grant will be administered by a three-person University team, including Kohng. Assisting them is Dr. Rachelle Ankney, professor of mathematics, a service learning fellow of the University. Ankney led a cohort of five faculty who engaged in service learning during the 2011–2012 academic year.

Illinois Campus Compact, based at DePaul University, Chicago, is a coalition of colleges and universities that promote the civic development of students and each campus as an active and engaged member of its community. The organization's grant program to promote civic engagement in the Chicago region is supported by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Chicago.


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