CSU Campus Connections program receives national excellence award

CSU’s Campus Connections youth mentoring program has been named one of five recipients of national excellence awards from the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC).

The inaugural awards were presented Oct. 2 during the ESC’s 2018 Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Representatives of the Campus Connections (CC) leadership team who attended the conference to accept the award included CC co-founder and CSU alumna Lindsey Weiler, Department of Human Development and Family Studies head Lise Youngblade, HDFS Associate Professor Jen Krafchick and HDFS Professor Toni Zimmerman. (Key team members Shelley Haddock and Mackenzie Miller did not make the trip.)

Weiler, Youngblade, Krafchick, Zimmerman
From left are Weiler, Youngblade, Krafchick and Zimmerman.

The ESC Awards Program recognizes the sustained work of students, faculty, community partners and higher education institutions, and increases opportunities for enhanced peer learning. This award recognizes a higher education institution and its exemplary contributions to scholarship and the practice of engaged scholarship.

ESC Board President Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs at the University of Alabama, underscored the importance of the highly competitive new program.

“These institutions exemplify the best engagement scholarship has to offer, and demonstrate innovative and practical solutions to some of the most critical problems facing our nation and world today,” Pruitt said.

About Campus Connections

Campus Connections (CC) is a therapeutic mentoring program in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies for disadvantaged youth ages 10-18. Youth are paired in one-on-one mentoring relationships with undergraduate CSU students for a four-hour program once a week during the semester. The program engages about 220 youth as well as around 250 CSU mentors and students in CC leadership roles each year.

The program promotes the resilience and life success of at-risk youth; prepares university students to become highly skilled, civically engaged professionals; and responds to community initiatives to strengthen community systems and better serve disadvantaged youth and their families.

CC was started in 2009 in response to the discontinuation of local mental health services for youth due to the financial recession. CSU was invited to the table to brainstorm community-based solutions, and CC emerged to support community need, engage various agencies in partnership with assets at the university, and provide a program that both served youth in desperate need and provided a high-impact learning experience for CSU students. The CC model has been licensed to other universities, including the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the University of Northern Colorado. It is soon to be licensed to CU-Colorado Springs and CSU-Pueblo. CC continues to explore other university partners to host CC in their communities.

Other recipients

The other award recipient of the Excellence in Community Partner Engagement category was Ohio State University’s Generation Rx. Western Carolina University won the Excellence in Student Community Engagement Award for its Student Democracy Coalition project. Ball State University was selected for the Excellence in Faculty Community Engagement Award for its Schools Within the Context of Community Program. And the University of Wisconsin-Extension was named recipient of the Ryan, Moser, Reilly Excellence in Community Engagement Institutional Leadership Award.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.