National Service Agency Announces $9 Million to Strengthen Student Learning, Improve Teaching, and Solve Community Problems

Jun 29, 2010

Washington, DC — The Corporation for National and Community Service announced $9 million in Learn and Serve America Higher Education grants to support teacher training and increase student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math disciplines.

Grants were awarded to 28 higher education institutions and nonprofits, focused in two main areas: training current and future teachers to use service-learning in the classroom, and to bring service-learning to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines. A total of 192 organizations applied for the grants, demonstrating the growing belief that higher education plays a key role in achieving community impact and that service plays a key role in education.

Mark Gearan, the Corporation's Board Chair and President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, announced the grants at the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. “Through our strategic planning process we've recognized the critical role of higher education institutions, and we've invested hundreds of millions of dollars in higher education to support service-learning and community service,” said Gearan. “As we move forward, we are eager to partner with more colleges, and to strengthen our focus on achieving demonstrable results on tough problems.”

Gearan led a session at the conference focused on partnerships between local nonprofits and higher education institutions. The discussion among college presidents from across the country spotlighted the increased interest in using service as a solution to local challenges and a tool to strengthen the academic experience of students. The Corporation has seen a dramatic increase in applications among institutions participating in the agency's President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Last year, more than 780 institutions were recognized, indicating growing higher education commitment to local communities.

“These grants will advance our goal of aligning quality education programs with service opportunities that help address local needs,” said Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation. “We believe that innovation in education should move beyond the classroom, and engage young people in creating solutions that change the world around them.”

The Higher Education grants engage current and future teachers in service-learning experiences that will increase student achievement, and give teachers the opportunity to use service as an educational tool. Additionally, the grants are designed to strengthen student interest in STEM coursework and careers to help solve critical community needs, such as energy conservation and habitat restoration. Below are two programs that received grants in each of the focus areas. Click here to read the complete list of awarded organizations and projects.

  • Duke University will lead a partnership with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to advance their Program in Education by training teachers in K-12 schools. The national consortium of universities will use service-learning to increase academic engagement, reduce the achievement gap, and address dropout prevention.
  • El Paso Community College will implement the “Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources” (POWER) program to contribute to environmental sustainability in the U.S.-Mexico border region. This project intentionally pairs faculty with underrepresented Hispanic and female science studies students. Together they will work with community partners focused on environmental awareness and stewardship in the El Paso area.

The Corporation also recently announced $20 million in School-Based Formula grants to states, primarily through State Education Agencies, for K-12 schools. The grants will support local districts and schools to carry out service-learning projects in partnership with community-based organizations.Through service-learning, K-12 students use knowledge and skills from the classroom to address important community problems in areas such as the environment, education, public safety, and other critical needs. By using academics for an immediate purpose, students become more motivated to learn and contribute to solving community problems. Click here for a complete list of grantees.


Learn and Serve America provides an “on-ramp” to a lifetime of civic engagement for more than a million students each year. As part of its goal of making service-learning a common practice, the program provides resources to teachers, faculty members, schools, and community groups across the country. In 2009, 1.1 million Learn and Serve America participants were engaged in service-learning activities for nearly 20 million hours that addressed challenges and unmet needs across the country.

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