Occidental Receives President's Honor Roll Award for Service
Occidental College has again been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll With Distinction for exemplary service efforts and service to disadvantaged youth.
In 2007, over 1,100 Occidental students – nearly two-thirds of the student population – contributed more than 51,000 hours of service in areas ranging from math tutoring to art appreciation.
“Whether student-run community projects, community-based learning classes, community-based research, or our regional partnership with the Education Strategies Group focused on college access, reciprocity of interest and benefits for the community and for the students is what makes Occidental’s community-based learning programs unique,” said Maria Avila, director of Occidental’s Center for Community-Based Learning.
Each year, the Corporation for National and Community Service recognizes general community service work as well as service in a designated special focus area. The 2007 special focus area was services to youth from disadvantaged circumstances that lower school dropout rates and prepare youth for college – areas in which Occidental student volunteers excel.
"What distinguishes Occidental is that our community outreach is tied to the curriculum," said President Robert Skotheim. "Students are taking skills that they learn here on campus and directly applying them to places in need within our community."
Examples of community-based learning at Occidental include:
- A community-based learning course, developed jointly by the mathematics departments at Occidental and nearby Franklin High School, through which students and faculty at both institutions work together to increase the number of Franklin students passing algebra – a key to increasing high school graduation rates and college-readiness.
- The Asian American Tutorial Project (AATP) that works with Castelar Street Elementary School in Los Angeles’ Chinatown to tutor immigrant children and provide them with the skills and guidance necessary to assimilate into mainstream society and gain access to a higher education.
- Occidental’s Arts for Appreciation and Achievement (AAA) volunteers seek to instill in at-risk elementary school children an appreciation and life-long affinity for the performing arts, as well as to increase their academic achievement and desire to continue their education beyond high school.
- Encouraging Distribution to End Need (EDEN) is a program that involves Occidental students traveling to a nearby church and cooking and serving meals to the homeless and food insecure in the Eagle Rock community.
Improving access to college has long been a focus of Occidental’s outreach efforts. The College’s Upward Bound program is one of California’s largest and most successful programs; it serves more than 200 low-income first generation college-bound students each year. In 2006-2007, Occidental’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District served more than 3,000 low-income middle and high school students from three local schools. Both Upward Bound and GEAR UP utilize the services of dozens of Occidental students.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that improves lives, strengthens communities and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. The Corporation administers Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, a program that supports service-learning in schools, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.