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PR # 191 March 14, 2008

RVCC HONORED FOR WORK WITH SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES

The Community College National Center for Community Engagement (CCNCCE) has honored Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in North Branch with the ?2008 Service Learning and Civic Engagement Collaboration Award? for its outstanding work with social service agencies.

The College was selected for the award as a result of the following attributes:
* quality of learning opportunities provided to students
* contribution of both the institution and its partners to community improvement
* level of faculty involvement in the collaboration
* potential to be replicated in other communities

Service Learning at Raritan Valley Community College provides students with the unique opportunity of serving in the community and receiving academic credit for their efforts. Annually, more than 1,000 students participate in service learning projects with over 250 community organizations in Somerset and Hunterdon counties. In addition, 65 full-time and part-time faculty offer service learning either as an option or requirement within all academic disciplines. Each year RVCC students contribute more than 30,000 hours of service, donating the economic equivalent of $600,000 to the community.

Service learning projects address many different community issues. RVCC students volunteer at social service agencies that provide academic programming, ESL classes and enrichment activities to underserved populations. Other examples include Business Law students who serve in non-profit organizations that provide legal services to low-income populations, observing court cases and doing research. Accounting students help with fund-raising activities, as well as budgeting and tax preparation. Science students serve with medical staff at women?s health centers. Students from fine arts and communication courses provide much-needed assistance to organizations preparing brochures and press releases. Students in computer classes provide technical assistance, such as web development, network management and desktop publishing, to numerous non-profits and community-based groups in the social service sector.

Service learning students are involved with projects that foster skills that are immediately transferable into the workforce upon graduation. In fact, each semester approximately five percent of these students receive job offers as a result of their service learning projects. Agency directors credit this to service learning activities relating directly to the students? academic skills and volunteer experience. According to feedback from surveys, approximately 70 percent of students also continue to serve the community after they have completed their course requirements.

The Community College National Center for Community Engagement is a leader in advancing programs and innovations that stimulate active participation of institutions in community engagement for the attainment of a vital citizenry. Based in Mesa, Arizona, CCNCCE provides technical assistance and training, grant opportunities, conferences, model syllabi, resources and awards to community colleges nationwide.

This is not the first time the RVCC Service Learning Program has been honored. In February, the College received a Special Achievement Award from the President?s Higher Education Honor Roll, recognizing outstanding service learning projects focused on disaster sheltering. This is the second time that the College has been recognized by both the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Community College National Center for Community Engagement. In fall 2006 the Corporation named RVCC to the President?s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction for general community service and Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts. In 1998 the Community College National Center for Community Engagement selected RVCC for the Service Learning Collaboration Award recognizing its outstanding work with social service agencies.

For additional information about Raritan Valley Community College?s Service Learning Program, visit www.raritanval.edu/servicelearning or contact Lori Moog, program manager of Community Outreach, lmoog@raritanval.edu .

RVCC, located on Route 28 and Lamington Road in North Branch, NJ, and serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 40 years, offers more than 80 associate degrees and certificates. In addition, customized training programs and non-credit courses are available for those seeking personal and professional development.

The College is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community?s businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu .

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