General Community Service
Augsburg College | Minneapolis, Minnesota, Paul Pribbenow, president
The mission at Augsburg College is to educate students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. This goal is supported by an engaged academic community that is committed to intentional diversity in its life and work.
Augsburg College takes seriously the view that it has a responsibility to serve its neighbors and that responsibility is at the core of the way it educates students. U.S. News & World Report listed Augsburg as one of the top 25 schools in the country for service-learning.
Augsburg College, guided by the values of the Lutheran church, strives to educate students at the intersection of faith, learning, and service. Its urban setting, longstanding tradition of community involvement, and commitment to develop students who are informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders make the college a natural leader among its peers in service-learning.
The three-year-old Bonner program offers an unusual opportunity for students to engage in a long-term policy program. Some of the projects addressed low-income housing, community health outreach, and financial literacy; the students also helped establish a free clothing exchange and ran an employment education computer lab. The program has become so valued that community organizations seek to form partnerships with the college. The more than 13,000 service hours invested by students, faculty, and staff through the Bonner program is an indication of how valuable it is to them.
The school is in the Minneapolis neighborhood of Cedar Riverside, a traditional port of entry for new immigrants. It is home to a diverse population, including a large number of residents originally from East Africa. Augsburg students and staff hosted a kitchen shower to provide supplies to the East African Women’s Center, which had fallen on hard times. When the center needed child care assistance, Augsburg’s Early Childhood Program provided student volunteers, and when it needed extra staffing, three Bonner program participants and many service-learning students were provided. Much of the college’s community involvement takes place in course-embedded service-learning a deliberate incorporation of experiential education, service-learning, and civic engagement.
To directly address the projected shortage of workers in the fields of health care and science, Augsburg has developed two service-learning projects: Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science (GEMS) and Guys in Science and Engineering (GISE), in which fourth- to eighth-grade girls and boys from public schools participate in summer programs focused on math, science, technology, and engineering. Through this program, the young people (and their mentors) develop confidence in and a positive attitude toward these subjects. How can a young person not love learning when the subject is taught through classes such as Roller Coaster Physics, Robotics, Stomp, and Soccer?
Early evidence shows a dramatic increase in testing scores, especially among African-American female students, who are almost twice as likely to pass graduation tests as their nonparticipating classmates.