University of Nebraska Omaha (Omaha, NE)
University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, NE
Award focus: Economic Opportunity
Student Service Estimates:
- School motto: To earn a living and to live a cultured life not as two processes but as one. Number of students volunteering: 5,000
- Number of community service hours logged 2012-2013: 380,000
- Key service areas: Food distribution, housing rehabilitation, park restoration
Our Unique Approach to Community Service
A distinguishing characteristic of the University of Nebraska at Omaha is its commitment to community engagement through both coursework and co-curricular activities. The university has increased the number of service-learning courses offered in all six academic colleges and at every level, from first year general education through graduate seminars. Today 42% of the student body participates in service learning and volunteer projects. Over 14 years, academic service-learning has grown from seven courses with 100 students, to more than 160 courses with over 2,600 students each year.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha is committed to maintaining and expanding meaningful, sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships that improve the broader community and the university.
The university’s curricular and co-curricular service programs provide millions of dollars of direct service each year as well as organizational capacity building to a broad range of community agencies, organizations, and nonprofits. Through these partnerships, students, faculty, and staff teach and learn in real life settings.
- Seven Days of Service: Each year, as part of the university’s “Signature Service Days” initiative, hundreds of university students partner with local high school students and community volunteers, dedicating part or all of their spring break to service throughout the city of Omaha. A hallmark of this program is an interdisciplinary focus on housing rehabilitation and homelessness prevention through on-going partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and The Metropolitan Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH).
- Addressing Food Insecurity: Students are dedicated to relieving chronic food insecurity in the local Omaha area. According to Feed America, 34,570 children in Omaha are considered to be food insecure, including 40 percent of North Omaha’s families. The university’s Aquaponics project (cultivating plants in water with aquatic animals) is just one example of their focus on food drives, community gardens, service in food pantries, expert support for nonprofits focused on hunger issues, and awareness campaigns around food/hunger issues.
- Success in School: University programs such as the Service Learning P-16 Initiative, the Signature Days of Service, and SummerWorks are dedicated to increasing the academic success of both K-12 and university students through collaborative service learning and volunteer projects emphasizing employment and college preparation. These programs focus especially on those who are at risk to not finish high school or successfully graduate from college.
- Computer Basics for Inmates: In an effort to increase inmate confidence with technology and to prepare them for reentry into society, University of Nebraska at Omaha students serve the Douglas County Department of Corrections by teaching essential computer skills to inmates.
With the opening of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center in Spring 2014, the University of Nebraska at Omaha has been strengthening its commitment to meaningful and reciprocal community engagement through academic service learning and student-led volunteerism. The university continues to pursue funding opportunities to expand and better support community engagement programming through internships, capstones, field experiences, and thematic service and volunteer opportunities.