SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / October 2006 / Learn and Serve America Higher Education Grant
Learn and Serve America Higher Education Grant
(Ashland, Oregon) - Southern Oregon University (SOU) is the recipient of a $140,000 Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service, an organization that facilitates in service-learning projects at schools, colleges and community-based organizations nationwide. SOU’s application was one of only nine grants funded out of 206 submissions in the higher education individual category aimed at improving academic achievement, reducing risky behaviors, and increasing civic engagement. SOU was the only higher education institution in Oregon to receive funding from Learn and Serve America.
“The high quality of the applications made the selection process extremely challenging,” said Amy Cohen, director of Learn and Serve America. “This was the most competitive round of new grants that we have ever seen. Many high quality service-learning programs could not be funded or could only be funded at lower levels than in the past.”
Besides providing the infrastructure at SOU needed to integrate community-based learning into the curriculum, this grant will support the development and implementation of a model tutoring program, Hispanic Academic Outreach. This project began as an effort led by Rogue Community College (RCC) Oregon Leadership Institute students who wanted to do something to address the dropout rate of their peers. According to the Oregon Department of Education’s 2003-2004 dropout report, the statewide dropout rate for Latinos is 9.8%, which is over twice the 4.6% overall dropout rate, and well beyond the 3.8% dropout rate for white students. In Jackson County, the Latino dropout rate stands at 16%.
A taskforce was formed to create a new vision for education of Hispanic students in Jackson County that included SOU, Rogue Community College, South and North Medford High Schools, Southern Oregon Education Service District Migrant Education, and other institutions and individuals. An important component of the visioning process was having the local Gordon Elwood Foundation assist the students to convene community partners and facilitate the process. “This application stood out because it linked SOU with an important need in the community that was already underway with a strong collaboration of partners, so more students will be impacted by the project and all involved partners will be key to making this grant successful,” said Barbara Scott, Associate Provost for Extended Programs at SOU. Utilizing SOU and RCC students as tutors and mentors, the funded project is designed to provide culturally sensitive services to high-risk Hispanic high school students to increase their rates of graduation and enrollment in higher education. The Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD) Migrant Education Department will train and supervise the mentors and tutors who will serve in this effort.
“This grant will promote academic success for Rogue Valley Latino youth through high school graduation and college or workforce readiness in an area of their choice,” said Charlie Bauer, Coordinator of the Migrant Education program at the SOESD. “We expect this program will increase enrollment in college-bound courses, improve English and Math proficiency, increase the number of applications to colleges and the number of scholarship recipients, and cultivate positive relationships between all involved parties.”
In addition to the focus on Hispanic youth, the grant is also designed to support expanding training opportunities for SOU and Rogue Community College (RCC) faculty and student affairs staff to provide a variety of service learning opportunities for students related to issues of methamphetamine abuse, funding public education, and availability of affordable housing for those employed in the Rogue Valley. “This grant will enable us to expand our capacity to engage our students and faculty in meaningful service learning opportunities that are tied to specific needs already identified by our community partners,” said Associate Provost for SOU Barbara Scott.
For further information contact:
Lynn Green, Public Information Officer