Kent State Named to 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
Kent State University has been named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning and civic engagement.
The Corporation for National and Community Service began awarding this honor in 2006 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education, Campus Compact and the Interfaith Youth Core. Kent State has been named to the honor roll eight times since 2006.
“This recognition is an honor for Kent State, but more importantly, it reflects who our students are,” said Ann Gosky, interim director of Kent State’s Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement. “It reminds us that individually and collectively, we can make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.”
Serving and Learning
Kent State was recognized for its ongoing service opportunities, such as its Campus Kitchen project, Super Service Saturday, immersion trips, alternative spring breaks and service days connected to national events like Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and National Make a Difference Day.
“These programs are not just services, but they provide an active way to learn and expand our view of the world,” Gosky said.
The university was specifically honored in the economic opportunity category, which recognizes programs that focus on improving the financial well-being and security of economically disadvantaged people. Kent State’s Hunger to Healthy initiative was honored for collaborating with the local community to combat hunger in the city of Kent. This was accomplished through programs like Campus Kitchen at Kent State, which, in 2014, engaged more than 2,000 people in meal preparation and distribution, recovered more than 35,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise been thrown out and facilitated an estimated 4,500 hours of service. The Campus Kitchen at Kent State also works in collaboration with the university’s Center of Nutrition Outreach to provide nutrition education, programming and materials to groups and individuals at either minimal or no cost.
“We are dedicated to our community outreach efforts, and it is the core of the nutrition program,” said Natalie Caine-Bish, coordinator of Kent State’s Center of Nutrition Outreach. “Students are given hands-on experience in the field, and the community is given numerous opportunities for free nutrition education and all age levels.”
Kent State’s Center of Nutrition Outreach specifically serves adults and children in Portage County. Its Mighty Pack program, a partnership with the Haymaker Farmer’s Market in Kent, offers nutrition education sessions that teach members of the community about healthy eating and helps to reduce food insecurity.
Having an Impact
Kent State also was honored for its Bridge to Kindergarten program in the education category for improving educational outcomes for children. Bridge to Kindergarten offers a two-week camp for preschool children living below the poverty line to help them become acclimated to a school in a low-pressure, play-based environment.
“This program, as well as others, really confirms the mission of the university to have a local impact,” said Janice Kroeger, associate professor in Kent State’s School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies and founder of the Bridge to Kindergarten program. “There are things that we can do through a partnership with Kent State that I couldn’t do alone.”
Kroeger works with her partner Laurie Curfman, who serves as a social worker with Project GRAD, one of Bridge to Kindergarten’s community partners. Together, they work with undergraduate and graduate students at Kent State to lead different activities that foster educational and playful experiences for children in the Buchtel cluster of the Akron Public Schools.