Friday, March 18, 2011

March 2011: ECSU announces its new Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification

ECSU announces its new Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE---With only 311 colleges and universities in the United States chosen for the new classification, ECSU joins a prestigious group of institutions that are now eligible for major grants and awards to fund projects that will mutually benefit the universities and the communities in which they are located.

The classification will allow ECSU to partner with city and county government agencies and local nonprofit organizations, including churches and other institutions of higher learning, to apply for money to fund a variety of projects aimed at solving community problems. The partnerships can focus on economic development, green initiatives, educational programs for the public and programs to enhance public appreciation of the arts.

With the designation, ECSU will be eligible to receive federal grants, as well as major grants from the Carnegie Foundation and other groups for which the foundation serves as a clearinghouse. The designation has no expiration.

Dr. John Luton, a professor in ECSU's Language, Literature and Communications Department who also serves as director of the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, was delighted by the Carnegie Foundation announcement.

"We are looking for ways to make Northeastern North Carolina a better place to live," he said.

Luton noted that in order to be selected for the designation, ECSU had to demonstrate its active participation in the community. According to the Carnegie Foundation, the university-community interactions had to address needs identified by the community, deepen students' civic and academic learning, enhance community well being, enrich the scholarship of the university and be mutually beneficial.

"The programs used as examples of ways ECSU contributes (to the community) are programs that meet the needs of school children, pre-schoolers, residents who need assistance with the purchase of a home and many others," Luton said.

The ECSU Community Development Program offers free seminars that inform area residents of the steps needed to improve their credit and the importance of good credit in preparation for buying a home.

The ECSU North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network Pre-College Program helps middle school and high school students from underserved areas prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The university also is involved in Port Discover, a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the public's understanding and enjoyment of science through engaging programs, activities and exhibits. ECSU faculty, staff and students volunteer their time and knowledge to a range of hands-on science projects completed by youngsters from pre-school through eighth grade.

Each of the programs helps Albemarle-area residents solve problems that challenge segments of the community. The ECSU Office of Community Outreach and Engagement will work with the ECSU Office of Sponsored Programs to uncover grant opportunities. Luton said the university sought the Carnegie Foundation classification because it meets the specifications.

"We wanted to make sure the university's services and academic research were made available to the public," he said. "It's all part of accountability because a lot of funds come here and we can use them to make life better for the citizens in the 21 surrounding counties."

ECSU Chancellor Willie J. Gilchrist suggested forming a committee to apply for the Carnegie Foundation classification in 2008. The university was selected in late 2010. The committee included Luton, Dr. Barbara Johnson, Rocky Lane, George Jackson, S. Delacy Stith and Dr. Linda Hayden.

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an Act of Congress, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center. Its current mission is to support needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence and structured opportunities to build knowledge.

The improvement of teaching and learning is central to all of the foundation's work. As the foundation brings together researchers, teachers, policymakers and members of organizations with common interests in education, the foundation works to invent new knowledge and to develop tools and ideas that fosters positive change and enhanced learning in our nation's schools.

Kesha Williams
Director of Media Relations
Office of University Relations and Marketing
Elizabeth City State University
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
FAX 335-3769

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