This page recognizes outstanding service-learning and community service by Ohio State students, faculty, and staff. The following stories were gathered as part of Ohio State’s application for the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Service in Academic Year 2012-2013*
Commitment to Service Statement:
As a land-grant university, The Ohio State University has a responsibility to the community to ensure that our teaching, research, and service are advantageous to the citizens of Ohio. Students are introduced to Ohio State’s tradition of service through Community Commitment, one of the largest single-day service events in the nation. Days of service draw more than 10,000 students to volunteer annually. In addition, Ohio State hosts more than 100 service-oriented student organizations. These efforts are facilitated by the Office of Student Life, supporting a robust culture of student service on our campus.
The University’s colleges also use service as an element of curricular planning. There is a wide range of programs. For example, Humanitarian Engineering is a program through which the College of Engineering promotes technology as a tool for social justice. Projects range from building wheelchair ramps in Central Ohio to remodeling orphanages in Honduras. The OHIO Project, an initiative that has made service-learning a core part of the College of Dentistry, provided services to 10,096 low-income children in 2012. The Schweitzer Fellowship program encourages graduate and professional students to solve some of our state’s most urgent public health problems. The Fisher Tax Time clinic partners with the United Way and other agencies to provide free tax preparation services to the community. It has provided over $4 million dollars in direct economic stimulus via tax returns to our city since it began. Projects such as the EHE Special Education Reading Clinic bring immediate assistance to at-risk students and contribute to the skills of future educators to ensure that every student has the chance to succeed.
Moreover, our Service-Learning Initiative supports the integration of outreach and engagement into teaching by supporting more than 80 courses with a service-learning component, many of which, can fulfill a required elective credit for undergraduates. Service-Learning is in every college at Ohio State, with an average of 30 courses available per semester across a variety of disciplines. At every step, from undergraduate exploration to advanced professional degrees, students are serving at Ohio State.
Our students’ passion for service is matched by an internal culture that supports our institutional mission. In 2013, every college and unit at Ohio State completed a strategic plan that included priorities for Outreach and Engagement, which is one of Ohio State’s four institution-wide goals. This is supported by a network of strong interdepartmental partnerships between the Office of Outreach and Engagement, the Service-Learning Initiative, the Office of Student Life, The Office of Undergraduate Education and other units that support service.
These partnerships build internal capacity through collaborative efforts like the university’s Outreach and Engagement Grants program, which distributes over $300,000 a year to support innovative community programming. The Outreach and Engagement Recognition Awards honor service-related programming. We issue an annual report, “Our Year in Service”, in which we share the data and stories we collect for the President’s Honor Roll with the campus community.
Offices also support service as a part of their individual missions. Ohio State University Extension is strengthening communities and providing economic opportunities through programs like ForeclosureCorps, a one-year AmeriCorps program that brought foreclosure counseling to Ohioans in all 88 counties. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion supports initiatives like the Young Scholars Program, which received the 2013 national C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award, to provide mentorship and financial aid to promising first-generation students across Ohio. Service and community engagement is the core of the land-grant mission, and The Ohio State University is dedicated to being the benchmark among our peers.
Humanitarian Engineering refers to efforts in the College of Engineering, and collaborations with other units at Ohio State, to address community needs via engineering and technology. The main drivers for Humanitarian Engineering in the last 10 years have been strong student interest and significant faculty and staff commitment and leadership for education and service. Student organizations include Engineers for Community Service (ECOS), Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), Solar Education and Outreach (SEO), SERVitecture, and Design Build Institute of America – OSU. These groups have hundreds of student members and active involvement in local and international service projects.
Since 2005 there have been on-going project trips that involve faculty/staff and students going to locations in Honduras (now, three trips per year). 155 OSU engineering students have gone on these trips. Students have also done service projects in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Haiti and Ghana. Service projects have addressed a wide range of issues: computer lab development, water purification, solar power, aquaponics, irrigation, bicycles for electrical power, low-cost lighting, flood mitigation, wind electric power, communications technologies, and education and low-cost engineering laboratories for developing universities.
In Columbus, ECOS has completed projects in wheelchair ramp design and installation, computer education for senior citizens, and “Phone-a-Buckeye” science and math tutoring for K-12 students. ESW is involved with grade school education and recycling projects. SEO does a local safety lighting project. There are also are a number of K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outreach activities in the College of Engineering for local disadvantaged populations. In Autumn 2013, ECOS formed the “Community Technology Clinic,” a downtown Columbus site that facilitates OSU and area engineers serving the technology needs of the poor and homeless and support services like shelters and pantries; already, students have done IT projects for two pantries and design projects for the homeless.
There is a significant academic component to Humanitarian Engineering efforts. Currently there are three service-learning courses, two capstone design sequences, and one other course used for pre-trip student preparation. There is a course on principles of humanitarian engineering that includes poverty, development, social justice, and engineering for communities, both local and international. We are working to establish a minor in humanitarian engineering, likely approved by Autumn 2014.
The impact of programming is great. There have been several publications on service, education, and research, and an OSU-led “Scholarship in Engineering for Social Justice: A Practitioner’s Form” that is a national level “virtual community” to promote scholarship in humanitarian engineering. The program has lead to the formation of an NGO by an OSU alumnus, called “Design Outreach.” ECOS alumni also help run the MIT D-Lab program that focuses on humanitarian engineering, and an alumna works with an NGO in Haiti. There are 30 faculty, 11 staff, and hundreds of students involved in the Humanitarian Engineering program. For instance, in addition to the student organizations, by next year we will have almost 300 freshman and sophomores in the Humanitarian Engineering Scholars Program, and the new Global Engineering Option has close connections, and a growing number of involved students. The program is promoting diversity (e.g., half of the 155 student travellers to Honduras were women, but less than 20% of engineering students are women). The program has strong long-term partnerships will local and international individuals who facilitate our activities, with collaborations with Purdue, Penn State, Colorado School of Mines, and several universities in the developing world.
The OHIO Project
Oral healthcare is the greatest unmet health need of all Ohioans, according to the 2011 Ohio Department of Health (ODH) report, Oral Health of Ohioans and their Access to Dental Care, in addition to previous ODH reports since 1998. Most oral diseases are easily and inexpensively prevented with routine care. However, certain populations including the working poor, disabled, and minorities experience higher-than-average rates of dental disease and have difficulty accessing care. The College of Dentistry responded to this major health issue in 2002 by securing a $1.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to implement an unprecedented form of outreach education in its history known as the OHIO (Oral Health Improvement through Outreach) Project. The College committed to augment its clinical education of students and began a process of making dental education relevant to Ohio’s citizens. The College had much to gain. Its community based dentistry experience was minimal; current models of dental education were and still remain plagued by skyrocketing tuition, dwindling faculty, and aging facilities. Traditionally, the clinical experience of dental students lacked diversity, both in terms of culture and dental needs of Ohioans.
To create the OHIO (Oral Health Improvement through Outreach) Project, the College invited dental providers from all over Ohio to create partnerships. The challenge was to integrate dental students into 23 care facilities to provide dental services to the underserved, while gaining a meaningful educational experience. The opportunity was in the ability to reach more patients. The outcome was professional growth and fulfillment for partners and students. Through a collaborative effort the College has integrated fundamental change to clinical education of its students by incorporating a minimum of 50 full days of direct care to underserved populations into the curriculum. Currently partnerships in urban and rural settings are maintained with community health centers, Veteran Administration Centers, a mobile school- based treatment van, a center for special needs children and adults, hospitals, nursing homes, and private practices where students rotate for 2-4 consecutive weeks during regular academic sessions.
Through the OHIO Project a win-win relationship has been created. Our partners contribute education and direction, the College of Dentistry provides additional care providers to address basic dental needs of the underserved. Our data show a tremendous increase in services to roughly 55,500 Ohioans. A sense of partnership and professional fulfillment as well as satisfaction has been expressed by our more than 23 community partners and the 1000+ students involved over the ten years of the project. The College has noted an increase in student productivity in its clinics as well as a revitalized curriculum. Students have improved confidence in their abilities and time management skills and therefore we are graduating more clinically experienced professionals. In addition, students are gaining knowledge and appreciation for alternative career paths. Data suggests these experiences have a positive impact on the understanding of ethical and social issues related to oral healthcare. OHIO Project faculty have generated scholarship including abstracts and publications and assumed leadership status in a national dental outreach education movement. Within the University, the OHIO Project has strengthened relationships between dentistry and other units in areas of health science, diversity, outreach and admissions. The OHIO Project has also leveraged additional funding for diversity initiatives and novel care delivery partnering with school, mental health, and faith-based communities in addition to the dental community.
Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellowship Program
Launched in September 2010 and hosted by The Ohio State University College of Medicine, the Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows Program is comprised of partnerships among colleges at Ohio State, Ohio University, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) program aspires to improve the health of vulnerable people by developing a generation of Leaders in Service—graduate and professional students skilled in creating positive change with and in communities, health and human service systems, and the world. The Schweitzer Fellowship is meant as a “pilot year” for students who plan to make community service a part of their professional career. Thus far, Schweitzer Fellows have come from the OSU Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Dentistry, Education and Human Ecology, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Pharmacy, Public Health, Social Work, Veterinary Medicine, Fisher College of Business, and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Cohorts of graduate and professional students representing the colleges and a broad range of academic programs submit proposals to design and implement year-long community service project benefiting underserved populations in Franklin and Athens counties. Selected Fellows are hosted by non-profit community organizations which provide services to low income, vulnerable, and other underserved groups. The organizations name members of their staffs to serve as “site mentors”, and they collaborate with Fellows to directly implement those projects that address identified public health concerns in their community. Fellows dedicate a minimum of 200 hours to their project. The 2012-2013 cohort’s projects addressed a wide range of public health concerns in communities across Ohio, including increasing access to fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes to patrons of food pantries and other underserved residents in Athens County, a collaboration with a Columbus-area Moms2B program that included hands-on educational seminars on oral health and established an opportunity for mothers to receive dental care at the College of Dentistry at OSU; a partnership with a Columbus non-profit to organize monthly workshops to empower young women by teaching healthy decision-making, critical thinking, assertiveness, and self-defense; and a project that addresses the growing problem of substance abuse in Appalachia through intervention focused on stopping the cycle of addiction and educating medical students to effectively identify and manage substance use. The growing list of community organizations partnering with ASF includes the Columbus Public Schools, Goodwill Columbus, Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Athens County, and Moms2B. Organizations that have hosted Fellows have given very positive feedback and indicated that Fellows are committed, passionate, and dedicated to building capacity for the agencies they serve. In just two years for which complete data is available, 31 Columbus-Athens Fellows have served 7,500 hours in Franklin and Athens counties, meeting the needs of 3,551 underserved residents. Another 12 Fellows will complete their fellowship projects this May. The program has a sustained positive community impact: three quarters of all projects thus far undertaken by Schweitzer Fellows are being sustained at the organizations which hosted them,and students who participated report that they have further developed skills in advocating for underserved populations and effectively addressing the needs in the community that they serve.
The Young Scholars Project
Literature on first-generation students indicates they are more likely to delay college entry and drop out of college, often begin college less academically prepared than other students, and are not likely to receive help from their schools in applying to colleges. Being a first-generation student is a challenge, but literature also shows that students who receive mentorship and assistance in transitioning to college have every chance of success. This is especially important for students from urban districts, where a college education can be the gateway to a better life for young students and their families. Ohio State is committed to supporting first generation students with financial needs, and one of their most successful programs is the Young Scholars Program (YSP).
Founded in 1988, YSP provides comprehensive academic, career, and personal development programs for pre-collegiate (grades 7th through 12th) and collegiate (college undergraduates) scholars. Students are first-generation middle and high school students from Ohio’s nine largest urban school districts: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lorain, Toledo, and Youngstown. The goal of the program is to improve student performance; graduation rates; and access to a college education. YSP programs prepare scholars for college success by: complementing current academic instruction with weekly academic enrichment sessions; increasing college readiness skills and information (study skills, financial aid, goal setting, and major exploration); and providing college-based supportive services (bridge programming, tutoring, advising, mentoring). YSP also hosts a number of campus visits where scholars spend one day to three weeks learning about Ohio State and participating in programs. Scholars in good standing upon high school graduation receive an appropriate financial aid package to Ohio State. For many first-generation students, YSP is their first positive exposure to college, and the support and encouragement they receive is essential to their future college success. Programming is provided in partnership with school district administrators and staff; Ohio State faculty, staff, students, and alumni; and community and corporate partners such as the Urban League of Greater Cleveland and Luxottica Retail.
YSP scholars agree to complete a college preparatory curriculum in middle and high school to build a solid foundation for college studies. At the end of autumn semester 2012, 35% of the 2012-2013 freshman cohort had a 2.6 cumulative gpa or higher and were in good academic standing for the YSP Scholarship. In addition to their academic achievements, Scholars also participate in a variety of community service projects with non-profit agencies such as the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, the Cleveland Foodbank, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and others. In the 2012-2013 school year, Scholars contributed over 500 hours of service to their communities with a variety of staff-guided projects.
Since 1988, over 100 Scholars and their families have participated in YSP every year, and the impact can be shown in the effect the program has had on college enrollment. The program has had over 3,000 participants, with over 1,000 of those students graduating from Ohio State. From 2008-2010, 15 percent of all Ohio State students admitted from the YSP districts were YSP graduates. Overall, YSP supplied 27 percent of African American students admitted from Ohio’s urban districts. YSP has also been recognized for its community impact multiple times, receiving grants and awards from multiple foundations. Most recently, YSP won the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award, honoring it as one of the top community engagement programs in the United States.
EHE Special Education Reading Clinic
Reading is an essential skill for success in school and beyond. Many children who live in poor urban communities are at increased risk for reading failure. The consequences for reading failure are often life-long including; increased risk for special education placement, dropping out of school, low-paying jobs, and behavior problems (including incarceration).The majority of children (approximately 70%) who have special education labels have deficits in reading. Providing effective and systemic instruction to young students who are experiencing difficulty in learning to read can prevent reading failure. Therefore, a crucial component in preparing future special education teachers is the development of reading instruction skills. The Special Education faculty recognizing the need to train pre-service teachers in reading instruction developed a course (ESSPED 5738) that allows OSU students to implement empirically validated reading strategies with struggling readers. A critical component to this course was the identification of a community partner. The Special Education Program has developed a collaborative relationship with the teachers at Hamilton Elementary School, a Columbus City School located in a low-income community. This collaboration between Hamilton Elementary staff and OSU faculty allows opportunities for OSU students to implement effective reading strategies in a supervised environment with young children who are in need of reading services. Hamilton Elementary children typically score below both the state and district mean on standardized reading assessments. The student population at Hamilton is similar to other schools in low-income communities. Three doctoral students and Dr. Gardner supervise the OSU students in the reading clinic providing feedback and recommendations for tutoring. Last year, forty-one OSU tutors (18 Autumn Semester and 23 Spring Semester) provided one-on-one reading instruction to 33 Hamilton children. Eight of the children received tutoring services during both semesters. The children receiving tutoring are first, second, and third graders. Each child receives intense empirically validated reading instruction twice a week for one hour each session, across 10 weeks, for a total of 20 hours per semester. The OSU students are divided into two groups for tutoring. Faculty and staff are present for both tutoring groups. During the first few weeks of each semester OSU students are trained in using reading assessments, phonics, and effective reading strategies. Once the initial on-campus training is completed OSU students travel to Hamilton to meet their tutee and complete the initial assessments. OSU students assess children’s progress using both standardized tests and curriculum based measures. Children often double their reading fluency, increase decoding skills, and demonstrate improved comprehension. End of the semester assessments indicate that many of the children have reduced risk for reading failure as measured by standardized test. OSU students are required to submit a final report that includes instructional objectives, pretest and posttest data, formative data, and recommendations for future instruction. Final reports are given to the Hamilton Elementary teachers at the end of each semester. Ohio State students frequently observe a transformation of children from reluctant readers into children who are increasingly confident readers. The classroom teachers regularly express satisfaction about their children’s progress in the reading clinic. Additionally we have witnessed the development of wonderful relationships between OSU students and the children at Hamilton Elementary. These relationships are important in providing OSU students with positive experiences with a culturally diverse population. This collaboration provides a valuable service to the university in preparing teachers while assisting in improving the reading achievement of urban children.
Project 6- Fisher College of Business Tax Time Clinic (Economic Opportunity)
The Tax Time Coalition of Central Ohio is a network of nonprofit, business, and government organizations that was created in response to a community need for education on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and general tax preparation assistance. The majority of low or moderate income tax filers in Ohio use a paid tax preparer to file their taxes, many of whom charge upwards of $200 for services and take their fees directly from the anticipated return. This is a major detriment to families who rely on refundable tax credits that are designed to support low-income working families, such as the child tax credits and the EITC. Tax Time’s mission is to help connect working Ohioans to refundable tax credits such as the EITC and other credits that are meant to supplement wages and reward hard work. The program provides free, high-quality tax assistance to families that earn less than $58,000 a year through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. It also provides referrals to other network partners who can help to further stabilize and support working families, such as the Ohio Benefit Bank, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and HandsOn Central Ohio.
There are 19 Tax Time sites in Franklin County, including a site operated at the Godman Guild Association and staffed by students from Fisher College of Business. The Godman Guild is a nonprofit that provides a variety of resources to residents of the Weinland Park neighborhood in Columbus, OH. Despite an active civic association and a tight-knit community, Weinland Park is one of Columbus’s most resource-poor neighborhoods, with nearly 70% of residents at or below the poverty level. By volunteering their time doing taxes at a Godman Guild project, Fisher students provide a direct economic stimulus to Columbus’s citizens who need it the most.
Planning and recruiting for Fisher’s VITA program starts in September of each year. Students must complete technical tax training and become IRS-certified tax preparers by passing ethics and tax law exams. Students are also required to attend software training led by IRS trainers. In addition to coursework that helps prepare them for the program, student volunteers spend anywhere from 10 to 16 hours each completing the training requirements of the program. While directed by a faculty member from the Accounting & MIS department, daily operations of the VITA site are led by student volunteers, who contribute close to 1,000 hours annually towards the project. Not only does the program allow students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to a real-world setting, but it also provides the community with a much-needed service. Participation helps students hone the communication and relationship-building skills required for successful careers in business and accounting through one-on-one interaction with clients. Students spend time on Friday evenings and Saturdays helping clients prepare their tax returns, while student site managers spend additional time during the week e-filing the tax returns, following up with clients, and performing administrative tasks.
Fisher has operated a VITA site at Godman Guild in Columbus since 2005. Support for student volunteers, including computer equipment and support, uniforms, and refreshments, is provided by the United Way, Godman Guild, OSU Extension, and the Fisher College of Business. Since its inception in 2004, the program has been enormously successful and shown growth every year. The number of student volunteers from Fisher has nearly tripled over the past 10 years, with 70-80 students now being involved in the program each year. The site has gone from preparing 145 tax returns in its first year of operations to 298 in 2012. Since 2004, The Fisher College of Business VITA site has prepared approximately 2,500 tax returns that generated net Federal tax refunds alone of over $4 million for households in Franklin County.