Gonzaga University’s Center for Community Action and Service Learning will receive $25,000 from Washington Campus Compact to strengthen the Zag Study Buddies curriculum by adding science and math activities for the 120 students at five local elementary schools whom Gonzaga students tutor.
All five of the local elementary schools where Gonzaga students tutor and mentor youngsters through the Zag Study Buddies program are Title 1 schools with 65 to 94 percent of the schools’ total enrollment receiving free and reduced lunch. Three of the five schools currently fall below the Spokane School District passage rate of 63 percent for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores. The Gonzaga student-tutors meet with the elementary students twice weekly for an hour and 15 minutes each session. Students are referred by teachers and counselors to participate in this program based on their grades and WASL scores.
With funding from year three of this Promising Practices grant, CCASL will provide interactive learning games and activities to help elementary students develop critical math and science skills. Gonzaga science, math and education faculty will help identify comprehensive science and math curricula for Zag Study Buddies.
These curricula will include training for Gonzaga student volunteers and the creation of two campus-based science and math fairs. Additionally, CCASL will work with Jesuit faculty and student life professionals to create an assessment to gauge the impact of CCASL’s mentoring and tutoring programs on Gonzaga students’ involvement in civic engagement.
The assessment will focus on the unique ways that Jesuit education influences this development by examining such aspects as the cultivation of the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis, the care and concern for the dignity of each person.
The funds to be used during the 2008-2009 academic year are part of nearly $400,000 the Bellingham, Wash.-based higher education consortium is allocating to 11 private and public colleges and universities in the states of Washington and Idaho. The initiative is part of the WACC’s Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant from the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS).
Also, CCASL will document and disseminate to other universities the program model and best practices. The manual, “A Road to Resilience: Gonzaga University’s Mentoring Guide to Engage College Students with Youth at Risk,” created during the 2007-2008 school year, will be expanded to include the Zag Study Buddies program model and best practices. This manual will include the collected results from the assessment developed to measure the impact of Gonzaga’s mentoring and tutoring programs on student development in the context of the University’s Jesuit mission.
To further disseminate information about the program, CCASL Director Sima Thorpe will present the program at the Continuums of Service Conference in spring 2009. This presentation will include Gonzaga’s program models, best practices, the assessed impact on volunteers, and the ways other institutions may adapt our programs to suit the needs of their students and community. Together with a faculty partner, Thorpe will present from the perspective of both program developers and faculty/researchers.
CCASL also will collaborate with GU staff and faculty to develop an assessment of Gonzaga mentoring and tutoring program volunteers. All of the grant recipients will implement programs to promote service-learning, convene educators, and coordinate service-learning opportunities. The elementary schools participate with GU students via CCASL’s Campus Kids, SMILE, and Shaw Connection programs.
Todd Dunfield, associate director of CCASL, said the initiative will help the WACC determine some of the differences between service learning on public vs. private universities.
“The real question is how service learning and civic engagement on a Jesuit campus differ from that on a public campus,” he said. “This will push CCASL into becoming more of a living and learning organization. How do perceptions, emotions and career choices change for Gonzaga students who become involved in this? Everyone else is researching the public school children and, with only 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, we think this will show the Christian moral imperative is to be civically engaged and CCASL is the vehicle that allows you to do it.”
“With this new round of funding, the selected colleges and universities can continue their college-based service programs,” said WACC Executive Director Jennifer Dorr. “Funding from Learn and Serve allows higher education to address critical community issues through service-learning.”
Learn and Serve America, a program of the CNCS, provides support to schools, higher education institutions and community-based organizations that engage students, their teachers and others in service-learning. The CNCS is the nation's largest grantor supporting service and volunteering.
Established in 1992 and hosted at Western Washington University, Washington Campus Compact and its membership of 35 two- and four-year colleges and universities provide meaningful experiences for students to become active, engaged leaders in their communities, furthering the civic and public purposes of higher education and strengthening communities. WACC is an affiliate state office of Campus Compact, a national organization comprised of more than 1,100 higher education institutions committed to the civic and public purposes of higher education.
The colleges and universities in the states of Idaho and Washington selected for funding are:
- Boise State University
- Cascadia Community College
- Central Washington University
- Clark College
- Edmonds Community College
- Everett Community College
- Gonzaga University
- Heritage University
- Lewis-Clark State College
- Olympic College
- Seattle University
- Shoreline Community College
- The Evergreen State College
- University of Idaho
- Washington State University
- Washington State University, Vancouver
- Western Washington University
For more information about Gonzaga’s service learning programs, please contact Sima Thorpe at (509) 313-6856 or via e-mail. For more information about the Learn and Serve Program or the Washington Campus Compact, contact Brian Heinrich at (360) 650-4147, or via e-mail.