UAlbany’s Community Service Efforts Improve Region’s Quality of Life While Earning Place on U.S. Community Service Honor Roll
Peer outreach assistants and a community outreach associate offer health information in the lobby of Bliss Towers in Hudson, part of an award-winning project run by UAlbany's Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities in 2011-12.
ALBANY, N.Y. (March 18, 2013) – The University at Albany’s community service efforts to improve the quality of life in the Capital Region have earned the institution a place on the 2013 U.S. President’s Higher Education Honor Roll. Contributing to this national designation was the 39 percent student-service participation rate and three exemplar UAlbany programs that address pressing community needs in the areas of minority health care, affordable mental health services and improved information literacy in low-performing and other schools.
“UAlbany is proud to be recognized as a leader in civic engagement and remains committed to addressing the needs of the community, both locally and beyond,” said University at Albany President Robert Jones.
This national designation is granted by the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS) to those colleges and universities that address and impact community needs, particularly those of low-income individuals.
UAlbany’s three exemplar programs in New York’s wider Capital Region including Albany, Hudson, Schenectady and Amsterdam, featured programs by UAlbany faculty who partnered or collaborated with many community organizations to address pressing community needs. These programs featured partnerships with many regional healthcare and social service providers, mental health practitioners, as well as area public school libraries, including:
- The Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities (CEMHD) engages communities in small New York cities and towns to plan, implement and test strategies to eliminate minority health disparities. In 2011-12 a major research project funded by the NIH helped African American women in a low-income housing project in Hudson, NY gain access to reproductive health care through programs that increased their overall health knowledge and awareness of local providers; heightened their intentions to seek healthcare; and increased their intentions to share information through participants’ social networks. Overall, three researchers worked with ten healthcare and social service providers to conduct reproductive health education events. As a result, 134 people attended these events and 61 reproductive health screenings were scheduled. The program also trained seven peer educators who serve as bridges between the community and local human service agencies. These peer educators were successful in making 650 contacts with local residents.
- The Psychological Services Center (PSC) - This training and research clinic helps fill the gap in affordable mental health services available in the Capital Region. It does so by serving many clients with low to modest income, as well as uninsured, unemployed, and disabled and disadvantaged adults on public assistance. UAlbany doctoral students in Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology programs provide psychotherapy, assessment, and vocational counseling. The impacts of PSC’s therapeutic services include reduced psychological distress and improved quality of life for thousands of Capital District citizens.
- School Library Media Training - To enhance K-12 English Language Arts curriculum, a UAlbany faculty member and her students collaborate with area public schools to create web-based learning modules aimed at improving information literacy and critical thinking skills. UAlbany students work in teams with K-12 partners--teachers, librarians, and K-12 students--to determine knowledge and skills desired and then develop, deploy, and assess tailored learning modules for varied subjects. The program integrates formative assessment into each module to ensure success. The course, which includes providing professional development, introduced new modes of instruction/assessment to 15 teachers and librarians in 2011-12. Eighteen UAlbany students engaged in 900 service hours at five area schools instructing 241 students.
CNCS recognized UAlbany and its students, faculty and staff for meaningful service that achieved measurable results in the community during the 2011-12 academic year. More than 7,200 UAlbany students participated in community service through volunteer work, courses and internships.
UAlbany's commitment to community engagement is longstanding, dating back to the University’s roots as a normal college in 1844. Today, faculty, staff and students partner with the public and private sectors in hundreds of ways to address critical challenges, ranging from autism, education and public health to social welfare and economic growth.
CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. Honor Roll honorees are chosen based on the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, a school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.