08:27 AM

Community Engagement Mini-Grant Awardees Announced

The Center for Public Service and Family Strengths would like to recognize the winners of the Faculty Community Engagement Mini-Grants for 2013-2014.

Civic engagement, part of UHD's statement of shared values, as well as the new call to service issued by President Obama (http://www.serve.gov/), focuses on the opportunity to make a personal connection to complex social problems in our communities. Several content areas are involved in reality-based education (also known as community-based education), an arm of service-learning.

Service-learning is recognized as one of the high-impact initiatives for student success. Additionally, it aligns with UHD's mission statement, creates campus-community partners, uses civic involvement to meet specific learning objectives of an academic course, engages students and invigorates teaching, and creates research and publishing opportunities.

Interested faculty submitted applications that included fall 2014 course information and learning outcomes, as well as a proposal that answered the questions: how will the outreach enrich learning; how will it connect classroom theory to practice and serve the community; how will the initiative strengthen students' critical thinking while fostering civic responsibility, among others.

A request for proposals for 2014-2015 will be issued during the fall 2014 semester and applications will be due Dec. 6, 2014. Notification will take place Jan. 24, 2015.

The university-wide Service Learning and Community Engagement Committee developed criteria, reviewed applications and selected this year's award recipients, including:

  • John R. Kelly - Dept. of Urban Education

Kelly was awarded a mini-grant for the University of Houston-Downtown Department of Urban Education/ Harris County Juvenile Probation Department Excel Academy Writing Project. During the fall 2014 semester, students from Kelly's PED 3301 course who volunteer will have the opportunity to participate in a high-impact, service-learning project designed to improve their understanding of and improve their teaching skills with at-risk youth. Read more here.

  • Natalia Matveeva - Dept. of English

Matveeva was awarded a mini-grant to develop a service-learning component for her ENG 3331 Advanced Desktop Publishing course. The goal of the service learning project is to help students develop new communication skills, establish contacts with local nonprofit organizations, positively impact local communities, and increase student's future employability chances. Read more here.

  • Stacie Defreitas - Dept. of Social Sciences

Defreitas was awarded a mini-grant for her "Reducing Mental Health Stigma through Community Engagement" project. She believes that a well-developed service learning program will result in an excellent learning environment for students, serve the community and result in a publication concerning its positive outcomes. Read more here.

  • Dana S. Smith - Dept. of Social Work

Smith was awarded a mini-grant for her "Older Adults and Autonomy" project, a directed study that focuses on transportation and technology. This directed study is designed to provide students who are interested in community outreach, advocacy, and the senior adult population, an opportunity for a hands-on experience in which they can see a project from beginning to end. Read more here.

  • Susan Beane - Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics

Beane was awarded a mini-grant for her "Probability of Birds" project. The learning outcomes for this service learning project are to gain an appreciation for our natural wildlife in the Houston community. Read more here.

  • Zeenat K. Mitha - Dept. of Arts and Humanities

Mitha was awarded a mini-grant for her "CrimeStoppers Student Enhancement" project. The project seeks to familiarize students with concepts, principles, practice and the profession of public relations and its effects. Students enrolled in Advanced Public Relations courses will get an opportunity to apply practical learning to presentations as well as relaying that message to an outside community of 10-50 people. Read more here.

  • Vida Robertson - Dept. of English

Robertson has been awarded a mini-grant in support of her Houston Independent School District Summer Reading Program. The project enables our UHD students to conduct and facilitate book discussions with participating high school students. Read more here.

  • W. Clay McFaden - Dept. of Social Sciences

McFaden was awarded a mini-grant for his "Texas Legislature" project, a first-hand experience in educating UHD students about the legislative process. Approximately 50 students will be taken on a day trip to the Texas Legislature in October in order to interview legislators or a high-level member of his or her staff for the purpose of educating students on the status of bills that will be introduced in the 84th Texas Legislature. Read more here.

  • Travis Crone - Dept. of Social Sciences

Crone has been awarded a mini-grant for his social psychology class. Students in his PSY 2302 course will be exposed to a wide range of social psychological research and theoretical perspectives that can inform and often improve the positions that our students take on key issues such as prejudice, homelessness, charity, altruism and more. Read more here.

  • Peter DeVries - Dept. of Finance, Accounting and CIS

DeVries has been awarded a mini-grant for a capstone course that will consist of a consulting team of four who develop a website/ database application for a local Houston business client using a system development life cycle methodology. Students will employ project management methods, project scheduling and control techniques, formal presentations and group dynamics in the analysis and design of information systems for local Houston businesses. Read more here.