Colorado State University’s Campus Connections youth mentoring program has been named a regional winner of the 2019 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
As a regional winner, CSU will compete with Cornell University, University of Louisville and Purdue University for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be announced during the APLU’s annual meeting Nov. 10-12 in San Diego.
The C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award includes a sculpture and $20,000 prize. The three other regional winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000 to further their engagement work.
The 10-year-old Campus Connections program is based in CSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies and is directed by faculty members Toni Zimmerman, Shelley Haddock, Jen Krafchick and Program Manager Mackenzie Miller. In the context of a high-impact, service-learning course for undergraduate CSU students (the mentors), Campus Connections provides 10- to 18-year-old youths (the mentees) with one-on-one and group mentoring experiences that occur within a structured, trauma-informed community with integrated mental health care, benefitting both populations.
“The Campus Connections team is honored to receive the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Award,” said Jen Krafchick, an associate professor of human development and family studies. “Campus Connections has a long-standing dedication and passion to university and community partnerships and was developed in response to a community-identified need for effective services for youth who were exposed to adversity. Our community partnerships have been an essential element in the success of the program over the past decade.”
About the awards
Since 2007, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have partnered to honor the engagement, scholarship and partnerships of four-year public universities. The Kellogg award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.
“Public universities across North America, including Colorado State, are working hard to bolster partnerships addressing the urgent challenges facing their communities,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Community engagement is a core mission for public universities. We congratulate this year’s Magrath Award finalists and exemplary designees for their exceptional work, which is at the leading edge of community engagement efforts. These institutions show the true power of public universities to help transform lives and improve communities within their state.”
A team of community engagement professionals judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner after presentations at the 2019 National Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference, which will be held in Denver in October and is hosted by CSU’s Office of Engagement in partnership with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Western Region.
CSU launched Campus Connections in 2009 to help mentor disadvantaged youth and build leadership skills for CSU students.
During the national recession, Larimer County faced an underserved population of youth with challenges such as truancy, substance abuse and delinquency issues. Alarmed at the long-term implications of this development, the Colorado Legislature called on community leaders to address the issue. CSU stepped up and partnered with an array of local organizations to form the Campus Connections program and address community needs with research-based solutions, including integrated mental health services. Partnering organizations include the Larimer County Department of Human Services, the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, local school districts, Larimer County Courts, the Food Bank for Larimer County, United Way of Larimer County and the Bohemian Foundation.
“One of the reasons we have a strong partnership with Campus Connections and use their services is that this program has it all – tutoring, mentoring, therapeutic counseling, and parent involvement — and they do all parts of their program well,” said Troy Krotz, assistant director of student outreach for the Poudre School District.
Over the past decade, the program has paired 2,350 local youth with CSU student mentors. Over 3,000 CSU undergraduate and graduate students have participated as mentors, research assistants, family therapists and student leaders. Mentees report improved wellbeing and less acceptance of risky behavior following the program. The CSU student mentors, meanwhile, achieve personal growth, build civic engagement skills and demonstrate higher university persistence and graduation rates. The program has proven so successful that four other universities have adopted the program’s approach and curriculum.
The APLU’s community engagement awards also include a class of exemplary designees. Two universities – North Carolina State University and Oklahoma State University – are being recognized for their exemplary programs. All institutions will be showcased at the 2019 Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Annual Conference in October.
The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.