Virginia Commonwealth U Plans New Community Garden
Virginia Commonwealth University's Green Unity Club has started construction on a new community garden on campus. With space for 26 separate plots, the garden will host workshops for beginning gardeners and all of the produce grown will be donated to local food banks.
Student Groups Help Small Businesses Get Off the Ground
Student groups at a handful of institutions across the country have helped hundreds of community members start small businesses in the last few years, reports a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Campus Microfinance Alliance, a national network whose student members include Bentley (MA) and St. Cloud State (MN) universities, is one of several student-led groups offering loans to local residents who want to start businesses but are unlikely to qualify for traditional bank loans. Other groups profiled in the article include those at Grinnell College (IA) and Yale (CT), Brown (RI) and Rutgers (NJ) universities. The clubs, often established as nonprofits, have helped start barbershops, bakeries and hot-dog stands with modest loans of typically less than $5,000.
Antioch U New England Student Pledge Addresses Food Insecurity
Students in the Net Impact chapter at Antioch University, New England (NH) have signed the Perpetual Food Pledge. Aiming to bring awareness to the fact that the number of people who experience food insecurity in New Hampshire has increased by 90 percent since 2006, the pledge states that a nonperishable food item to help feed the hungry will be purchased with every trip to the grocery store.
Central Lakes College Hosts Local Food Production Program
Central Lakes College (MN) has announced a new Local Food College program that will aid farmers in increasing the production of food in the region. The low-cost sessions include an overview of whole farm planning, fruit and vegetable production, and business planning. Participants will learn from practitioners and educators and share personal experiences with others who are part of the growing movement to build resilient local food systems.
Mount Wachusett CC Receives $2 M Donation for Civic Learning
Following a recent National Task Force for Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement report noting that community college students in particular benefit from civic learning, Mount Wachusett Community College (MA) has received a $2 million donation from an anonymous donor to establish a civic learning center, reports the American Association of Community Colleges' (AACC) Community College Times. The center will establish best practices; support programs, activities and community events that highlight the value of civic engagement and its relationship to healthy communities; and help fund awards for the college's students who show commitment and provide mentorship in areas of civic learning.
Rochester Inst. of Tech Dean Earns National Sustainability Honors
Rochester Institute of Technology's (NY) M. Ann Howard, senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, has earned the American College Personnel Association's Champion of Sustainability award. Howard has been working in the field of community sustainability for more than two decades and established the University/Community Partnerships program in cooperation with resident leaders of neighborhoods in northeast Rochester. The program has yielded a 10-year community health initiative, community-based asset mapping and a community garden network.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Conducts Hunger Assessment
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo's STRIDE (Science through Translational Research in Diet and Exercise) Center has partnered with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County to survey more than 600 low-income residents for data on how many people go hungry in the county. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, students are helping collect data that will be used to create a "hunger map" of food availability in the county, including price differences and food desert zones. The research will be used to create a countywide plan to combat hunger.
U Southern California Students Host Community Skillshare
Student groups at the University of Southern California recently hosted a Community Skillshare for local neighborhoods. Community members and students showcased specific skills and activities including planting vegetable seedlings in recycled containers and screen-printing. Leftover sandwiches from the event were passed out to the homeless.
Michigan State U, OnSite Energy Partner for Biodiesel Training
Michigan State University has announced a new partnership with OnSite Energy for its Freeway to Fuels project. The project will test the potential of growing oilseed crops for bioenergy production. A portable unit that contains the equipment to crush oil from seed and convert it to biodiesel has been developed. Equipment will be transported from farm to farm to teach farmers how to make their own biodiesel fuel.
Washington State U Launches Sustainable Ag Newsletter
Washington State University's College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences has launched Green Times, an e-newsletter focused on organic and sustainable agriculture. Directed toward the regional agricultural community, the free resource includes current research news, events, and profiles of farmers and other regional industry professionals.
12 Nebraska Institutions Create Civic Engagement Group
Twelve Nebraska colleges have formed Nebraska Campus Compact in an effort to integrate service learning and civic engagement into campus and academic life. Nebraska is the 35th state to affiliate with the national organization, Campus Compact.
NPR Highlights Rise of Campus Food Pantries
Food pantries are becoming more common on campuses as the effects of the recession drag on, reports a recent National Public Radio story. New census data shows that young people under 24 years old are facing some of the highest rates of poverty. The story highlights a student-led food pantry at the University of Georgia, which had more than 200 student visitors in its first few weeks of operation.
U California Berkeley Hosts Community Service Day
Volunteers during the University of California, Berkeley's recent community service event tackled landscaping, mural painting, walking path construction, crop planting and graffiti removal. Launched in 2006, the Berkeley Project Day aims to build a legacy of community service by creating a strong relationship between campus students and community residents.
Green Mountain College Opens Community Co-Op
After several years of students talking about the need for a co-op market at Green Mountain College (VT), the Stone Valley Community Market has become a reality thanks to $50,000 from the college's president, according to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Besides providing desired items that are lacking in local supermarkets like bulk dry legumes, probiotic soy yogurt, hemp milk, and vegetables and meat that come straight from the farmers near town, the university hopes that the market will bring value as a local hangout and provide real-world experience to students including store management. While the market may not have opened without the initial investment, it was a group effort among the community and students. For example, the college's student government gave the co-op $10,000 from student fees as collateral for a loan from the Cooperative Fund of New England for marketing and other business start-up efforts.
Temple U Creates Community Medicinal Garden
Temple University (PA) has unveiled a community medicinal garden on campus with the intent to engage students and the community in the natural origins of medicine. In addition to allowing first-hand experience with plants with medicinal purposes for health sciences students, the garden contains planters with edibles like tomatoes, basil and cucumbers that community members are free to take as they pass by.
U Colorado at Boulder Holds Low-Income Youth Computer Intensive
For the first time, the University of Colorado at Boulder's decade-old "Computers to Youth" program has selected students to come onto the campus for a week to get a sneak peak of college life. The program, which provides computers to college-bound students from low-income families, exposes the students to the anatomy of computers in an attempt to bridge the "digital divide" that can affect economically disadvantaged groups. At the end of the camp, the students get to take home the donated computers that have been recycled and refurbished.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham U Conducts Sustainable Outreach
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University's (India) Center for Environmental Studies has launched training and extension programs for individuals, farmers and non-government organizations. Topics on organic farming, wastewater management, composting, medicinal plants and tree planting are discussed and include field demonstrations. The center has also partnered with the state forest department to help instill a sense of protection for trees and forest wealth within the community.
Byron Region CC Plans 'Greenskills Community Education Network'
Byron Region Community College (Australia), which features sustainability at the core of its community education programs, has announced plans to create a Greenskills Community Education Network. The network of institutions, community organizations and local government will create a support system to encourage movement toward sustainable changes and include professional development opportunities. The college also hosts a Greening your Centre sustainability webinar series.
Kingston U Launches Smart Communities Project
Kingston University (United Kingdom) has launched the Smart Communities project. A team of university researchers will help around 500 households reduce their energy consumption by encouraging the community to come together to change their daily routines. The three-year project will be led, as much as possible, by the people in the community with support from the university. In related news, the university has also announced that it will host Green Growth workshops to help businesses. The workshops will help identify sustainable enterprise opportunities and develop a business model to commercialize ideas. The program will be taught at the university by experts in sustainable design, research and enterprise. The workshops are slated to begin in fall 2011.
New Australian National U Website Promotes Urban Biodiversity
Australian National University has developed a new website, Life in the Suburbs, to teach local residents how to maintain urban biodiversity and improve species habitat for local birds and animals. Stemming from a recent comprehensive ecological survey of Sullivans Creek, which revealed the role that urban landscapes have in providing living spaces for local species, the website shows residents how to best share their suburban spaces with the species that can be found there. The site includes guidelines for managing urban habitat, steps to reduce human-induced threats to urban biodiversity and practical guidelines for developing habitat gardens and landscapes.
U Edinburgh Students Help Businesses Reduce Carbon Footprint
University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom) students have begun to measure the carbon footprints of businesses. The project seeks to offer businesses with the knowledge needed to manage their energy use and provide students with practical knowledge and hands-on experience. Initial figures show that the project, involving eight businesses from a range of sectors, has achieved a combined carbon emissions savings of more than 600 tons. The initiative is a partnership between the university, Prince’s Mayday Network and the Carbon Trust, and is coordinated by the Scottish Business in the Community.
Paul Quinn College Fights for Food Access in Local Neighborhood
Paul Quinn College (TX) President Michael Sorrell recently hosted a conversation on campus to challenge the city of Dallas to open a grocery store near campus. After grocers told the Sorrell that they didn't want to invest in the underserved Dallas neighborhood where the college is located, the college recently turned its football stadium into a farm. Now, Sorrell is looking toward the next step. More than 250 people, including a large number of Paul Quinn students, attended the meeting.
Solar Decathlon Home Preserved as Affordable Housing
A solar-powered house that students are currently assembling for the 2011 Solar Decathlon on the Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ) campus will be placed permanently in northeast Washington to serve as affordable housing. The institute partnered with Parsons the New School for Design (NY); Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School (NY); and Washington's Habitat for Humanity affiliate to break ground in the middle- to low-income neighborhood of Deanwood. Traditionally, the affordable solar-powered homes designed and constructed by college teams for the competition return to their respective institutions, where many are dismantled. In addition to the house drafted and built by "Empowerhouse," Habitat for Humanity will build a second passive house at the same site. The 2011 Solar Decathlon, an international green technology contest staged every two years by the U.S. Department of Energy, will hold its opening ceremony on Sept. 22, 2011.
U Maryland College Park Program to Certify Green Communities
The University of Maryland, College Park has launched Sustainable Maryland Certified, a program developed at the university's Environmental Finance Center to help steer public and private funding to communities that win sustainable certification by adopting green policies. Funded by federal and private grants, the free program will offer sustainability certification to communities that amass a total of 150 points, earned by setting up initiatives that address global warming, energy, pollution, land use, air and water quality, health equity, support for local businesses, sustainable agriculture, green buildings and transportation.
U Mississippi Donates Computers to Tornado Ravaged School
The University of Mississippi's Technology Recycling to Enhance Education (TREE) program recently delivered 24 computers to the Monroe County School District office for the Smithville School campus. The K-12 school was heavily damaged in an April tornado and students will attend classes in 43 mobile trailers when school resumes in August. The computers were collected from across the university's campus and cleaned and refurbished for distribution to public K-12 schools. TREE is a joint effort among the university's Association for Computing Machinery chapter, computer and information science faculty, and the Office of Information Technology to reduce the waste of usable electronic equipment.
Central Michigan U Starts Community Organic Garden Initiative
Central Michigan University’s Campus Grow, a local food-focused student organization, hosted a planting day for children at the Child Development and Learning Lab. The initiative was created to educate children about a variety of plants and how to begin and nurture a garden. Students planted an assortment of lilac cuttings, squash and watermelon seeds. Volunteers with the project will care for the garden along with two other campus gardens. The student group was founded two years ago and utilizes and researches non-toxic and organic means of producing a variety of open-pollinated fruits and vegetables.
NY Times: Sustainability Careers Appeal to Recent Grads
A new wave of recent college graduates are entering environmental sustainability careers, reports a recent article in The New York Times. "Suddenly, 'sustainability' seems to resonate with the sex appeal of 'dot com' or 'start-up,' appealing to droves of ambitious young innovators," says the article. Idealist.org, a website that lists paid and unpaid opportunities for nonprofit groups and social enterprise companies, reports that the number of jobs related to environmental work has roughly tripled in the last three years. Yale School of Management's (CT) director of career development notes in the article that business students are recognizing that corporations of all kinds consider environmental issues like reducing waste and carbon footprints important.
Stonehill College Starts Organic Farm for Local Food Desert Area
Stonehill College (MA) has started an organic farm to grow and distribute produce to local organizations. The farm was developed after learning that much of the surrounding community was considered a food desert. Students, faculty and staff volunteer to maintain the farm and have already delivered produce to three organizations. The farm has also inspired a new course to be taught in the fall as part of a learning community called “Food Justice,” which will focus on food access and distribution issues.
Lehigh U Donated Item Sale Raises Nearly $15K for Community
A recent clothing and household items sale at Lehigh University (PA) raised $14,700 for the Community Service Office's Homework Clubs. This is a record amount for the event, which began 13 years ago when university professors noticed the vast number of usable items being discarded by students who were leaving campus for the summer. That initial drive netted $500 for the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. Starting with a donation drive in April, this year's sale featured two 100-square-foot tents full of reduced price items donated by students.
Syracuse U Students Help Local Businesses Become Green-Certified
Students in the Syracuse University (NY) chapter of Students in Free Enterprise recently paired with local business as consultants for the Green Core Company program. Launched in 2010 with a group of pilot businesses through the university's Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative, the program is a certification blueprint for businesses working to achieve green operations through reduced environmental impacts. The student's on-site work, sometimes done on a weekly basis, addressed areas such as waste/recycling, energy use and green cleaning. As a result, eight businesses graduated from the green certification program.
Boise State U Sustainability Club Creates a Community Garden
Boise State University’s (ID) Sustainability Club has created a new community garden and sustainable space as an educational outreach tool and venue for community networking and engagement on sustainability. The space will emphasize integration of people as part of the environment and demonstrate the relationship between our behavior and natural systems. It will include a garden, compost area and water management system. Community members can participate in the garden by becoming shareholders at the beginning of the year or by volunteering labor to the maintenance of the garden. Shareholders will receive a portion of the garden’s produce. The garden was funded through a Fulbright Canada Eco-Leadership Grant.
Bard College Civic Engagement Center Receives $60 Mil
Bard College (NY) has received a $60 million contribution from the Open Society Foundations in support of its Center for Civic Engagement. The center's programs include helping people in New York State prisons earn degrees, assisting in the development of the first liberal-arts institution in Russia, and operating several public high schools in New York and New Jersey.
Cal Poly Pomona Constructs Water Tank for Guatemala Residents
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona's Engineers Without Borders club recently traveled to Guatemala with the government's permission to construct a 90-cubic meter water tank in San Lorenzo. Designed by the university's students, the tank was based on a previous site assessment and made specifically for the area's needs.
Institutions Earn Presidential Recognition for Community Service
Six colleges and universities received Presidential Awards in the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, announced this month. Augsburg College (MN), Rollins College (FL) and San Francisco State University (CA) were honored in the General Community Service category; St. Mary's University (TX) and Loyola University, Chicago (IL) received Promise Neighborhood awards; and California State University, Monterey Bay took home the Summer Learning award. Administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 511 institutions were named to the Honor Roll with 114 receiving Honor Roll with distinction recognition including Ohio Wesleyan University for the third consecutive year.
Missouri Institutions Assist with Tornado Relief Efforts
In the wake of the deadliest tornado in the U.S. in more than 60 years in Joplin, Mo. on May 22, area colleges are assisting with disaster relief efforts. Missouri Southern State University, Crowder College's Davidson Hall and Ozark Christian College are operating as triage centers and emergency shelters. Ozarks Technical Community College is collecting items for donation to the tornado victims.
Rochester Institute of Tech Announces Community Grants
The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute housed at Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) has announced the 2011 recipients of its Community Grants Program. The grants will provide monetary assistance to communities to advance the development and implementation of programs and initiatives in pollution prevention. The Rochester Child Care Council will use the funds to further advance its Eco-Healthy Kids Program. The second recipient, the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services, will use the funds to launch Pollution Prevention Education for municipal employees. The training effort is designed to assist municipal staff to better incorporate pollution prevention techniques in their operations while also providing information on new state and federal regulation related to waste collection.
U Oregon Students Prep Local City for Green Makeover
Springfield, Ore. will be the focus of the University of Oregon's Sustainable City Year, an initiative that joins student projects with city needs. Promoting environmentally sustainable design and development, the two-year old program invites cities who are interested in having students involved in creating green buildings, developing parks, improving traffic planning and refurbishing neighborhoods to apply. The work in Springfield, who will pay the university $230,000 to participate, is still being decided but could include the redevelopment of a former 40,000-square-foot grocery store and 17-acre lumber mill site. Last year, the initiative's focus on Salem, Ore. received attention in The New York Times. Salem paid $330,000 and in return received an estimated 80,000 hours of work from more than 500 students working on 16 projects that were part of 28 different academic courses in 10 different departments.
Austin College Earns Community Environmental Project Grant
Austin College (TX) has received a grant from the Constellation Energy Foundation’s EcoStar competition. The grant will be used to finance the college’s Center for Environmental Studies Sneed Prairie Field Trip Program. This program allows college students to teach elementary and middle school students about ecology and environmental issues on the college's 100-acre prairie.
Harvard U Ed Students Call for More Focus on Social Justice
After a sociologist who considered issues of grassroots organization was denied tenure, more than 50 doctoral students at Harvard University's (MA) Graduate School of Education are protesting the school's direction toward results-driven management and policy concerns. The students say the school has veered away from social justice and equality issues in education over the last decade.
Harvard U Sponsors Regional Bike Share
Harvard University (MA) has announced that it will sponsor five bike share stations as part of Hubway, a newly launched regional Bike Share program recently introduced by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and state officials. Harvard has also committed to sponsoring four bike share stations in Cambridge, Mass. when the bike share program expands.
U South Florida Hosts First Farmers Market
Members of the Food Activists Revolutionizing Meals (FARM) at the University of South Florida held the university’s first farmers market after five years of planning. The launch received nearly 400 Facebook RSVP’s to the event and students lined up to purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables. Members of FARM include student organizations, the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and the Office of Sustainability. Beginning this summer, the Student Community Gardens group will plant a campus garden to harvest produce to be sold at the market.
U Wyoming Awarded $5 Mil Grant for Community Food Project
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant program, a University of Wyoming professor will lead a $5 million, multi-state "Food Dignity: Action Research on Engaging Food Insecure Communities and Universities in Building Sustainable Community Food Systems" project. The project's extension portion includes five community food initiatives. Each will create a local steering committee to disperse small grants that invest in citizen solutions to their own food system issues. The research will focus on developing case studies of what each community has already done and during the next five years will make clear what factors influence their successes and failures as they work to create sustainable community food systems that provide ample and appropriate food for all. An education component aims to create new cross-disciplinary undergraduate minors in sustainable food systems to prepare University of Wyoming and Cornell University (NY) graduate students to engage in this work. In addition to Wyoming, participating states include California and New York.
Portland CC Raises Plastic Pollution Awareness with Art
Portland Community College (OR) has scheduled an art installation called “Washed Ashore,” to raise awareness of the pollution caused by plastic waste. The exhibit features giant sculptures of sea creatures that are made from discarded plastics that were gathered by hundreds of volunteers and grade-school children from the Oregon beaches.
Yale Health Donates Medical Equipment to Haiti
Yale University's (CT) Health Center diverted nearly 38 tons of medical equipment from the waste stream by donating it to a hospital in Haiti that is being rebuilt after it was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake. The university partnered with International Medical Equipment Collaborative, a non-profit that provides medical equipment to rebuild hospitals and clinics in impoverished areas worldwide, for the effort. The eight-truckload donation will take care of 20 percent of the equipment needed by the hospital.
Wake Forest U Students Teach Sustainability to Bilingual Children
Three students at Wake Forest University (NC) are using a service learning project for their "Entrepreneurship in Latin American and Latin Cultures" course to teach bilingual 4th and 5th graders in the community. Their program, Semillas Sostenibles (Sustainable Seeds), is a four-week course that teaches children about the environment, sustainability and healthy lifestyles. The students created a blog to document their progress.
Appalachian State U Recognized for Green Energy Advocacy
A new report by the Appalachian Region Commission, which states that the green energy movement has the potential to create more than 70,000 jobs by 2030, applauds Appalachian State University's (NC) efforts toward green energy job growth. The report recognizes the university's community outreach efforts through educational programs and the research conducted at its Energy Center. By 2030, the commission hopes to cut energy use for the entire region by 24 percent, resulting in energy savings of $21 billion for the region.
Central Lakes College to Offer Free Renewable Energy Training
Central Lakes College (MN) is partnering with the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. to offer free renewable energy training that is open to the public. The training is intended for dislocated workers to improve their skill-sets and make them more competitive in the renewable energy sector job market. The training program is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Minnesota Department of Commerce through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Governor's Workforce Development Council.
Students Nationwide Rally for Public Workers, Education
The United States Student Association and Jobs with Justice recently organized a nationwide student-led rally to defend public education and the rights of public workers during a national day of action. More than 10,000 students participated in the rallies at more than 35 locations and across 15 states.
Cornell U Students to Design and Build School in South Africa
Cornell University (NY) Sustainable Design, a student-led organization, has partnered with Education Africa, a nonprofit organization that strives to counter poverty through education, to design and build a schoolhouse in Cosmo City, South Africa, this summer. The 6,000-square-foot preschool and teacher-training center, known locally as a crèche, will accommodate up to 80 of the area's children as part of a South African national initiative to improve early childhood development. It will include classrooms, a dining area, a kitchen, a health center, indoor and outdoor play areas, and an office. The students have also published a book, "Schoolhouse South Africa: Comprehensive Context," that is a compilation of their research for the project. The book contains case studies, local architectural history, details about the city and region, childhood development strategies, building sites, structures and a pre-design brief.