Civic Engagement Awards Highlight Health and Sustainability Programs

Civic Engagement Awards Highlight Health and Sustainability Programs

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Kristin Simonetti
October 01, 2014

The Washington Center and the New York Life Foundation honored five colleges and universities for their innovative community programs at the 2014 Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards Luncheon Sept. 29 at the National Press Club.


California State University, Fullerton; Georgia College and State University; Massachusetts’ Hampshire College; Texas’ Rice University; and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga were selected from about 100 nominations. Established in 2009, the Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards program showcases institutions whose community partnerships provide innovative leadership in defining and addressing critical issues locally, nationally and internationally.


“We often hear negative things about the younger generation, but when you review these applications, you realize how much fantastic services is being done by colleges and universities around the country,” said presenter Geraldine Mannion, program director of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and a member of the TWC Board of Directors.


Get to know the award-winning programs:


  • California State University, Fullerton
  • With more than 13,000 students engaged in the community through courses and volunteer service, Cal State Fullerton maintains reciprocal community partnerships across a diverse range of fields. The Urban Agriculture Community-Based Research Experience, for instance, comprises several projects with multiple partners to advance healthy and sustainable nutrition and agriculture to address issues such as obesity, diabetes and hunger.
  • Georgia College and State University
  • Georgia College pursues a vision of public stewardship that focuses on economic development, public education, and health and wellness in its central Georgia communities. For example, the Live Healthy Baldwin partnership includes more than 15 organizations, agencies and businesses focused on healthy eating and active living. Service is also embedded in the curriculum through a leadership service-learning lab course that is required in the sophomore year for all students.
  • Hampshire College
  • At Hampshire College, commitment to civic and community engagement and social responsibility is a founding principle. The Sustainability Initiative connects learning and engagement efforts to serve healthy, locally produced food on campus. Hampshire’s Farm Center – one of the few working farms at liberal arts institutions – is also a growing collaborative hub for members of the agricultural community and Massachusetts’ Five College Consortium to explore sustainable systems for local food sourcing.
  • Rice University
  • Richer engagement with Rice’s home city of Houston figures prominently in its new strategic plan. The Community Bridges program, housed in Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, delivers on this mission by targeting poverty in Houston’s Fifth Ward. Community Bridges Fellows partner with a range of local nonprofit organizations to develop and implement long-term projects focused on the sustainable reduction of poverty in this neighborhood.
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • The imperative of “meeting the diverse needs of the region through strategic partnerships and community involvement” is a key part of UT-Chattanooga’s mission statement. Capitalizing on Chattanooga’s reputation as a one-time railroad hub, the university is partnering with the city to become a hub of innovation in transportation technology, with partnerships exploring alternative fuels, road surfaces and traffic patterns.

The luncheon also honored institutions whose partnership with TWC has advanced experiential education in exemplary ways. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a D.C.-based think tank that houses many of TWC’s academic seminar programs, received the Civic Engagement Leadership Award. D.C. Flyers – a new program for University of Dayton honors students – helped the Ohio institution and longtime TWC partner earn the Private University of the Year Award.


Florida received the State Partnership of the Year Award. Over the past year, Florida’s Legislature appropriated more than $700,000 to support public university students attending TWC, and more than 100 students from 10 different Florida institutions enrolled in academic seminar or internship programs. The University of South Florida (largest partner) and Florida International University (fastest-growing partner) earned special awards for their partnerships.


State Sen. Anitere Flores, a staunch advocate for TWC funding in Florida’s Legislature, accepted her award with message for those in the room from the 35 states that do not provide funding for students to attend TWC.


“Tell your representatives to give me a call,” she said. “I’ll tell them the many success stories we have from Florida.”


To view photos from the luncheon, please visit the Flickr gallery.

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More