The University of St. Thomas has recently developed a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program “to help nonresident aliens file their tax returns.” Student volunteers assist international students enrolled at St. Thomas University with filing their required taxes.
This recently established program provides benefits for both those receiving the assistance and the volunteers. In addition to helping a student in need, volunteers gain technical knowledge on the income tax system in the United States and “develop soft skills by working with real clients from all over the world.” With the establishment of this program, St. Thomas University renews its commitment and support to its international students.
To read more or become involved in VITA visit University of St. Thomas news.
University of Detroit Mercy has recently received a nearly $1 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This four-year grant will offer university counseling students the opportunity to implement the Counseling Underserved Populations (CUSP) Project, “which offers specialized, enhanced training to master’s level counseling students with an emphasis on integrated health, trauma, poverty, and court-involvement.”
Nancy Calleja, program director and chair of Detroit Mercy’s counseling program, stated “this most recent funding further cements Detroit Mercy’s pivotal role as an essential partner in nationwide efforts to effectively prepare highly-skilled clinicians to work with those in greatest need.” The implementation of this grant fits with university mission of serving the most vulnerable in the local Detroit community.
To read more of this story, visit University of Detroit Mercy news.
Notre Dame of Maryland University first-year students are beginning their time at college by serving those in their local community. During the students first semester at Notre Dame, students take an orientation course, NDMU 100, where they “learn about and enter into active service learning.” The program is part of the university goal of having students “recognize and help meet the needs of external communities but also offer a mutually transformative experience.”
Recently, the University partnered with Govans Elementary of Baltimore City Schools to offer third, fourth and fifth graders basic tools to begin the school year. The university collected funds to stuff backpacks with basic supplies such as pencils, crayons, rulers, notebooks, personalized flash cards and hand written notes wishing the Govans’ students well. This program demonstrates the university’s commitment to service and offers a “valuable interaction with diverse groups that provide rich learning opportunities when coupled with guided reflection, class discussion, and skilled analysis relating to course content.”
St. Thomas Aquinas College has been partnering with Rockland County’s largest food pantry, People to People during the fall 2017 academic semester. Communication arts students from the university have be providing public relations and social media marketing for the Rockland food pantry. Public relations students will be creating a PR plan and have been implementing this plan over the semester and social media marketing students have been “designing engaging content plans for an interactive social strategy for the non-profit.”
Executive director of People to People, Diane Serratore, stated “People to People is known for giving back to our community and we are so thankful to do exactly that in more ways than one. I am so honored to be able to provide key experiences for students in the local community and look forward to hearing all of their ideas.” This mutually beneficial partnership reflects both the St. Thomas Aquinas College and People to People’s commitment to serving those that have the least in the local Rockland community.
To read more about this partnership, please visit St. Thomas Aquinas College news.
Edgewood College’s newest fundraiser “Eagles Shooting Down Cancer” exceeded expectations by raising $7,795 over the course of five days. This fundraiser was hosted by the Edgewood basketball team on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Participants were “asked to donate $1 in order to shoot a free throw and a half-court shot. An anonymous donor pledged to match each $1 donation and then provide $5 bonus for a made free throw and a $100 bonus for a made half-court shot.” Students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni made a total of 495 free throws and 41 half court shots bringing the final total to $7,795.
“Eagles Shooting Down Cancer” began with an initiative six years ago from former University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan and his wife Kelly as a creative way to fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Edgewood men’s basketball head coach Justin Meyer followed their footsteps by hosting “Eagles Shooting Down Cancer” in order to aid those in need.
To hear more about “Eagle shooting Down Cancer”, visit Edgewood College news.
The deadline to apply for a Global Solidarity Grant, a collaborative initiative between ACCU and Catholic Relief Services University Engagement, has been extended.
Grant applications will be accepted until Friday, December 15, 2017.
The program offers small grants of up to $3,000 to ACCU member institutions to advance Catholic mission through global solidarity by developing creative projects or enhancing existing structures. Please visit the ACCU webpage for more details on project expectations and the applications process.
As we enter the Advent season, we are reminded of our continual call to direct our hearts and minds to the coming of Jesus Christ. As we do so, we reflect on his eternal sacrifice and his life on earth. Christ came to us a “light to the nations” and was a true example of how to give yourself to those in need. As Catholics we are called to do the same, for “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 21:1-2).
For Catholic colleges and universities, partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) offers the opportunity to lead by example and follow Christ’s example to be a light in the world. CRS uses the message of Jesus to defend the dignity of all human life through charity, justice, and living out Catholic Social Teaching. CRS offers these university and college partnerships as a way of “joining in solidarity with the global poor through education, prayer, and action.” Campuses have the opportunity to partner with CRS in three ways: through CRS Student Ambassadors, CRS faculty learning commons, and as a CRS Global Campus.
Villanova University is using their partnership with CRS through the Student Ambassadors program to advance its mission of awareness and solidarity for those in need. According to CRS, student ambassadors “are trained by CRS to mobilize their peers and bring to life the mission of solidarity, [which then] allows for chapters to connect and build across the nation.” At Villanova, student ambassadors are bringing awareness to their peers of modern-day slavery. In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, student ambassadors set up a table in a popular campus building in order to engage as many students as possible. Ambassadors gave students blue duct-taped ribbons to wear throughout the week in order to spark questions and discussion among peers.
The table also provided pamphlets with information on quick ways to help human trafficking victims. These tips ranged from how to identify possible victims to how to become a conscientious and informed consumer. Human Trafficking Awareness Day concluded with a screening of the documentary “Indifference is Not an Option.” According to CRS, the film “chronicles the lives of three escaped slaves spanning three countries and calls people to fight and stop hiding behind the excuse of ignorance.” The screening ended with the audience signing 80 advocacy letters. “These letters urged senators and representatives to pass the Supply Chain Transparency Act, which would help combat forced labor by forcing companies to reveal steps in their supply chain,” noted CRS.
Professors at The Catholic University of America are using resources provided by CRS Faculty Learning Commons to put a human face on issues learned in the classroom. CRS explains how faculty learning commons “provides opportunities for faculty members and other academic leaders to enrich student learning experiences by tapping into CRS’s expertise in global development and humanitarian response through the world.”
Professor Maryann Cusimano Love leverages CUA’s partnership with CRS in her politics courses by using the CRS faculty learning commons materials as required readings that deal with issues such as war and peace, refugees, global poverty, climate change, human trafficking, fair trade, and moral responsibilities to global challenges. Students then have a chance to answer written questions, she explains, and use the materials as an “example of how a general topic discussed in class manifests in a specific circumstance.” She also invites students to use CRS materials for projects and gives them the “opportunity to partner with CRS to bring in a speaker to campus or engage with CRS programming.” Love recalled how one student group chose to look at the issues faced by Iraqi refugees and invited Hani El Mahdi, director of CRS Iraq, to speak at CUA.
Dante Orlandini, senior politics major at CUA, recalls that “through the implementation of studies, documentation, and techniques, Dr. Love effectively incorporated Catholic Relief Services’ mission into our Global Issues course at Catholic, which provided me with valuable lessons.” Dr. Love explains that by partnering with CRS, “students are taken out of their comfort zone and grapple with the real world consequences of global trends, and reflect on whether and how they are contributing to global problems or to global solutions.”
Love notes that “CUA, with its Washington, DC, location, is blessed to live and work at the intersection of Church and state. CRS works on this same intersection, bringing our values of faith to the global problems of the world.”
The final way that campuses partner with CRS is by becoming a global campus. Through this institutional partnership, CRS engages with the campus through all three core constituencies: students, faculty, and administration, with the support of campus ministry and social justice staff. As a global campus, the college or university participates in both the Student Ambassador Program and the Faculty Learning Commons Program and establishes an interdisciplinary CRS advisory group. Sherri Walker, the program coordinator at Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking, explains that “as a global campus, Marquette University contributes to and also learns from CRS’s work in peace building” by using CRS’s work and examples as a way to “help form men and women who can be instruments of peace building and champions of a more equitable world.”
Because Marquette is a CRS Global Campus, its faculty have the opportunity to engage with CRS by using “collaborative methods of teaching, learning, and research that connect Marquette classrooms with CRS’s world-class teaching resources and research that addresses world problems,” Walker adds. For instance, Marquette faculty and administrators participated in the Ghana Faculty Enrichment Program. Walker notes that this program “served as a pilot project aimed at creating a model for partnering with the CRS country program in Ghana, as well as local universities. This partnership was expected to lead to joint research programs and closer collaboration between the in-country program staff, local university professors, and U.S. professors.” During this immersion experience, participants “studied the integral human development framework that CRS uses to design its programming, and the country-specific academic research that leads to development programming decisions.”
Walker explains that as a Catholic institution, Marquette recognizes that “God’s love is not restricted to a select few, but is extended to all.” From this perspective, “students from all faith traditions understands CRS’s engagement with populations where the majority are not Catholic.”
The month of December is the perfect time to learn about how Catholic colleges and universities are seeking to empower others to fight for peace and justice throughout the nation and world. By partnering with CRS in a variety of ways, institutions are given the opportunity to enrich the classroom experience and foster a community willing and ready to serve