In my senior year at Marist College I had the opportunity to intern at the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership (CCEL) on campus. This was the first year that the CCEL would be running at Marist and the director, Dr. Melissa Gaeke, was (and still is) determined to make the CCEL a successful and important part of a Marist student's education. Personally, I had a vague understanding of what Civic Engagement or Community - Based Learning was when I first started out so, I googled it like any good millennial. Now I will share it with you; it is an educational experience integrating community service or projects with an academic class to enhance learning and address critical community needs. As the CCEL began to grow and professors began including Community - Based Learning within their syllabi, I quickly learned the importance!
Now, I am on the other side of Community - Based Learning working for Hudson River Housing's Middle Main Initiative. We have had a Marist capping class create a beautiful new info-graphic for our organization's use as well as a new testimonial from one of our Middle Main business partners. The class brought me in for a formal presentation of all of their work and I couldn't have been more impressed. We have also had a Dutchess Community College class create a beautiful video of one of our re-development projects, the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. The Center for Communtiy - Based Learning at Dutchess Community College held a Service Learning Institute this past week and it was an awesome chance to connect professors and community partners!
These services provided for us were at no cost and turned out to be really wonderfully done. Community - Based Learning is a perfect example of how anchor institutions like our local colleges can assist local organizations and communities, all the while assisting their own students in experiencing real world learning. Symbiosis at its finest!