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The first place winner, which received $5,000, was Programa Integral de Acción Comunitaria en Barrios Vulnerables/Community Action Program in Vulnerable Neighborhoods (PIACBV) at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina. PIACBV was established in 2007 to work with high-risk populations in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area. Its main objective is the construction of communal spaces called Extension Centers which promote social integration, local development, and further opening the resources available to the community. Each Extension Center includes an information office with university staff who not only provide information on the services provided but also collect the demands and concerns of various local stakeholders including local government, community organizations, and individuals. This information is used to plan new interventions and to evaluate/adjust ongoing projects. The projects undertaken through the Extension Centers focus on three broad areas: Non-Formal Education (literacy, tutoring, job training, digital literacy, vocational and teacher training); Community Health (primary health care, nutrition, eye health, cardiovascular risk, dentistry) and Community Development (legal assistance, workshop on citizenship, recreational activities). Learn more.

The second place winners, who each received $2500, were Bright Site of Sunnyside Service Learning Centre at the University of South Africa and Student Community Engagement at the University of Brighton (United Kingdom).

The Bright Site of Sunnyside Service Learning Centre was initiated by the Department of Social Work in 2008 in collaborative consultation with the stakeholders and the community of Sunnyside in Pretoria in which UNISA’s main campus is located. Consultation continues through regular “awareness walks” through the community in which students directly engage community members about their concerns, needs, and ideas. The Bright Site Project continues to grow and a second urban and rural site is being developed in Durban. The Bright Site Project incorporates service-learning, community engagement, and research and development of capacities. Establishment of a service learning site provides alternative options for placements of social work students within the community engagement context. The site has also created opportunities for other academic departments to become involved in community based research and applied research responsive to societal needs. This research is disseminated to the community as well as organizations functioning in the community to inform service delivery and decision making. Thus far, 15 NGOs have been assisted with capacity building through management workshops, debriefing support groups, counseling, and consultation services. Issues addressed have included unemployment, homelessness, integration of the refugee community, and xenophobia. UNISA also collaborates closely with UNHCR on refugee issues. Learn more.

Student Community Engagement is a program under the Community University Partnership program (CUPP), which was established in 2003 to form sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships between the University of Brighton and community partners working together to address issues of marginalization and disadvantage in the local community. Its Student Community Engagement (SCE) program works to identify ways in which the student body might undertake community based activities as part of their accredited learning programs. These service opportunities provide students with access to practitioner and experiential knowledge while supplementing their academic learning. The goal of the SCE program is for students to explore their attitudes, values and aspirations in a real world context while making a contribution to the organization they are working within. The program has included 1500 students on the Community Participation module working on active projects, each impacting on a much larger number of clients. With its many projects reaching students from all academic backgrounds and community partners addressing various community issues, the Student Community Engagement program continues to support students’ civic education and participation while fostering greater ties between the university and community of Brighton. Learn more>>

The five third place winners, who each received $1000 to fund their programming, are described below:

Amplifying Grassroots Community Voices at the University of Venda (South Africa) was launched in response to a disconnect between the local government and the communities that this sector is supposed to represent. Many local community members feel that their voices are not heard, programs of local government rarely reflect the will of the people, and government decisions such as local development plans lack community buy-in. To overcome this disconnect, Amplifying Grassroots Community Voices works to create all-inclusive community platforms where people at least seven years old have the opportunity to express their views on local development issues. Through reflection circles that are facilitated by students and mediated by peers within the community, local development issues are discussed in a democratic manner and decisions are made by the grassroots community. The University team of academic staff/faculty and students works closely and co-learns with community-based organizations, community leaders, and local government. The program engages different cohorts within the community, including children, teenagers, men, women, and the elderly, then brings these voices together. Rather than giving resources to the community, the program seeks to empower the community to use its own resources to achieve development aims. Learn more.

The Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative at Bard College (USA) is a student-run program that works to build civil society in the West Bank. Through a variety of activities, Bard students and staff contribute to the creation of a viable and sustainable Palestinian state. The BPYI was founded in 2008 by a Palestinian student at Bard through the Trustee Leader Scholar Program, which supports students who design and run civic engagement projects based on their own interests. Students from Bard have traveled to the West Bank village of Mas’ha each summer and initiated workshops to encourage self expression, ran summer educational camps for girls and boys, taught English classes to adults, took young Palestinians on a trip to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum in Israel), organized a huge children’s festival, and built the first children’s library in the West Bank. Learn more.

Creating Communities for Development at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Mexico) works in six local communities with high poverty as a spokesman for the needs and interests of these communities, to connect university initiatives to these needs, and to be a source of information and networking for stakeholders in these communities. The program has established community centers in each of the communities being engaged. Community members are consulted through surveys and interviews so that they can participate directly in the planning and implementation of projects. Areas addressed by these projects include nutrition, English language training, computer literacy, tutoring support, legal aid, and recreational activities for children.

Community Links at the Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland) is an institute-wide program whose goals are to aid in the alleviation of educational disadvantage, widen participation and enhance civic engagement, particularly in inner city Dublin Ireland, although some of the programmes operate at national and international levels. These goals are achieved through a combination of community-based and DIT-based programmes. The underpinning philosophy of the Community Links Programme is that education for citizenship begins at a very early age i.e. primary or pre- primary and continues throughout life. Empowerment of individuals through engagement and enhancement of self esteem, leading to greater participation in education, brings about social change. The community-based programmes – Ballymun Music Programme, Dublin Inner-city Schools Computerisation Programme, and Digital Community (the latter two now merged into Computer Learning In Communities) – created and maintain partnerships with disadvantaged schools and communities, teachers and parents, to identify and meet their educational needs through the vehicles of learning / performing music, and computer technology. The DIT-based programs – Access Service, Mature Student Access Programme, and Programme for Students Learning with Communities – focus on providing pathways to higher education access for disadvantaged young people and adults, and supporting students and faculty to design service-learning projects in collaboration with community partners. The Programme for Students Learning With Communities also strongly integrates the DIT-based with the Community based programmes enhancing the educational experience for all.Learn more.

The Lakeside Drive Community Garden (LDCG) at Charles Darwin University (Australia) is an outreach program of Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Office of Community Engagement that enables students, staff, local government, community members and organizations and local businesses to work together to create a demonstration site for tropical food production and sustainable living education. The LDCG was launched in 2008 by the Talloires Student Group at CDU and is managed through a team of volunteer students and community members who meet regularly to discuss the planning and development of the garden. The main goals of the LDCG are to: create an inviting, safe and respectful space that forges stronger links between the university and community; create a holistic, productive and sustainable community garden site that celebrates sharing, learning and enrichment; build resilience and capacity in the community through the teaching of food production methods and sustainable living practices that can be emulated in homes and organizations; provide a channel for students and staff to engage with the community in an activity that addresses environmental and social issues; and be sustainable, ethical, equitable and exemplary in responsible use of materials, resources, and land management practices. Learn more.