The Building on the Promise: Learn and Serve UMass program at UMass Medical School will fund the MLK Semester of Service Student Awards, a new community service initiative designed to support student-driven community service and service-learning projects in the communities that surround the Worcester campus. Students from all three schools are invited to submit proposals outlining community service projects they hope to undertake in the spring 2011 semester. Students who submit the top three ideas will receive $500 in support to carry out their proposals. Winners will be announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 17, on UMassMedNow, and they will be recognized by Chancellor Michael F. Collins at the UMMS MLK Day celebration on Monday, Jan. 24. “Through the Learn and Serve UMass grant, we are able to encourage and support service learning as well as student-driven service projects. The aim is to improve community health through increasing student involvement in and commitment to community service,” said Learn and Serve project manager Heather-Lyn Haley, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health and medicine. “This award will allow students to think a little bit bigger about the kind of impact they might have in the spring. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great proponent of service, and our MLK Day celebration has had that focus for several years. Offering this award seemed like an appropriate way to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy while recognizing and facilitating a few of the great ideas that come from students as they get to know and work with community partners.” According to Haley, the projects proposed should, among other objectives, strengthen existing relationships with the community; address both community needs and student learning objectives; and provide opportunities for members of the UMMS community to work together and engage with the larger community. An important component of the project is the opportunity for the student to analyze and reflect on his or her success. Winners will be required to prepare a brief final report that documents how the funds were used and highlights the project outcomes and the lessons learned, as well as conduct a survey of fellow volunteers and those they served. The judging panel includes members of both internal and external groups involved in community service and service learning (see table below). The deadline to submit proposals is Monday, Dec. 20, at 5 p.m. For additional details, including the specifics for preparing and submitting a proposal, see the Family Medicine and Community Health Web site; the MLK Students in Service award is listed under Community Health. Learn and Serve UMass is a UMass systemwide grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, supporting student involvement on all five UMass campuses. The overarching goal of this UMass initiative is to expand service learning and community service opportunities for students, with specific focuses on youth work, economic development and community partnerships. At UMass Medical School, it is managed by the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health: Suzanne Cashman, principal investigator, Heather-Lyn Haley, project manager.
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Director, Community Engagement Program and Co-Director, Citizen Scholars Program, CommonwealthHonors College, UMass Amherst