Archive for May, 2011

The ADP National Meeting in Orlando is Virtual – June 2-4, 2011 #ADPS11

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

The theme of this year’s meeting, Beyond Voting: Active Citizenship in the New Era, poses the following set of questions: What does it mean to be an active citizen? How does online technology shape our citizenship behaviors? Are there generational differences in how we think about citizenship? What are the key citizenship behaviors and skills that students should possess by the time they graduate? What are the signature pedagogies and practices that encourage students to become active citizens? During our meeting in Orlando, we will explore effective strategies to engage citizens in civic work with these questions in mind.

The 2011 American Democracy Project National Meeting will host featured sessions, small and large workshops, a new “View from 30,000 Feet” series, spectacular keynote addresses, a Game of Politics Simulation, a National Issues Forum, and a robust set of concurrent sessions.

In addition to these special program features and because of the success of our eCitizenship: New Tools, New Strategies, New Spaces initiative, we have added online dimensions to the ADP National Meeting in Orlando. We are using a suite of online tools to share resources and connect people at the meeting. Please see below for a list of our social networking tools and remember to  connect with your colleagues! And if you are not able to join us in Orlando, use these tools to follow the meeting.

ADP Meeting Wiki:  You will find the full meeting program, suggested pre-reading, and PowerPoint presentations on this wiki on the ADP Meeting Wiki. To view the wiki, visit this website.

ADP National Meeting Twitter Hash Tag:  #ADPS11 Follow the ADP National Meeting on Twitter: #ADPS11 . Go to Twitter and search “#ADPS11” (don’t forget the pound (#) sign!). If you feel inspired, sign up for a Twitter account and Tweet your comments and questions. Remember to include the #ADPS11 in your comment and it will show up in our ADP National Meeting stream. People who aren’t able to join us in Orlando will be following along remotely using Twitter. While you’re at it, follow ADP on Twitter!

ADP YouTube ChannelWe are encouraging participants to upload portions of the meeting that they capture. If you capture video of the ADP National Meeting, remember to link it to the ADP YouTube page.

ADP Facebook: Become a fan of ADP on Facebook and connect with your colleagues before the meeting! Post comments and thoughts about the meeting on our wall. Be sure to use the meeting hash tag when you post comments on our wall (#ADPS11).

ADP Blog: I will also do some live blogging during the meeting so be sure to check the blog June 2-4, 2011, for blog stories about the meeting.

See you in Orlando!

Introducing Jennifer Domagal-Goldman – The New National Manager of ADP!

By Cecilia M. Orphan

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I will be going to graduate school in the fall and leaving ADP.  After this summer I will no longer serve as the National Manager of the American Democracy Project.  I have spent five years in this position and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I have had to grow as a professional and to take part in higher education’s struggle to protect and improve American democracy. This fall I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania where I will pursue a Ph.D. in higher education with an emphasis in civic engagement. The program is a perfect fit with my professional and academic interests and I will be advised by Matthew Hartley, a long-time leader in and champion of the civic engagement movement.

I am pleased to announce that we have identified the new National Manager of the American Democracy Project. Jennifer Domagal-Goldman will take over leadership of ADP in late July. Jennifer comes to us with years of experience with on-campus civic engagement work and doctoral research focused on civic engagement in higher education. Jennifer has been a long-time supporter of ADP and has attended two of our events.  She is very familiar with our work and brings to the Project a passion for higher education’s role in preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. We simply could not have found a better person to head ADP.

Jennifer will  join us in Orlando next week. If you plan to attend the ADP National Meeting (#ADPS11), please be sure to introduce yourself to her.

I will take my leave in late July so you will continue to hear from me until then. It is a great comfort to know that I can pass the Project off to someone who is not only extremely capable of leading ADP but is also deeply committed to our work.  Please see below for a brief introductory message from Jennifer.

See you in Orlando!

Jen and her dog Bailey

By Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project

I am honored to be selected as Cecilia’s successor. Though new to this position, I am no stranger to the American Democracy Project. My introduction to ADP occurred during the first semester of my doctoral studies. While writing a policy brief on the mandate that educational institutions celebrate Constitution Day, I researched efforts by national associations to strengthen democratic education and engagement efforts at colleges and universities. As part of that research, I interviewed Mary-Kathryn McKenna, ADP’s first program coordinator, and was impressed by what I learned. Later in my graduate career, I attended ADP’s 2007 Stewardship of Public Lands seminar in Yellowstone and delivered a presentation on Penn State’s Civic and Community Engagement Minor at the 2007 ADP National Meeting in Philadelphia.

I earned my doctorate in higher education from Penn State University last August. I also have a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from the University of Vermont, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Rochester.

While at Penn State, I worked as a graduate fellow in the Office of Undergraduate Education with the Minor in Civic and Community Engagement and the Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy. My dissertation research focused on how faculty members learn to teach for civic purposes and with community-oriented pedagogies in their undergraduate courses.

I am deeply committed to ADP’s mission to prepare the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy, and I am honored to be able to continue to advance the work of this important and innovative initiative. While I don’t officially begin work until July, I will be attending next week’s annual meeting in Orlando and look forward to meeting many of you there!

Campus Spotlight: SUNY Fredonia Celebrates Earth Week

By Sherri A. Mason, State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia

The key to saving our planet is simply to find a way to live in harmony with it. That means finding a balance in what we take from the Earth and what we give back to it. It is not about abstinence or extremes, it is about harmony and symbiosis. It is about finding the balance, in ourselves, our lives, and our society.

SUNY Fredonia’s Earth Week series is intended to provide activities and educational events to raise awareness of the breadth of sustainability issues facing our society and provide the tools necessary to reduce our negative impact upon our home.

Fredonia hosted its first ever Earth Week series of events in 2008 primarily as a voice to the then newly created Sustainability Committee. Now in its fourth year, the Earth Week Series has become one of the largest and most prominent annual events on the SUNY Fredonia campus. While our first two Earth Week Series of events were very successful, we took our community engagement and educational outreach activities to a whole new level with Earth Week 2010 and 2011 through our collaboration with the SUNY Fredonia Academic Community Engagement (FACE) Center.

The FACE center promotes campus and community collaboration in the areas of civic engagement, sustainability, service learning, and community-based research.

Past Earth Week Series:

Earth Week 2010: Be The Change

Earth Week 2009: Rethink. React. Restore.

Earth Week 2008: Our Home. Our Earth. Our Choice.

Since its launch, the Earth Week Series has grown into one of the biggest and best attended event series on the SUNY Fredonia campus. In 2010, it had grown to 42 events occurring over 11 days! Owing to its size and the need to be sustainable everyday, not just Earth Day, in 2011 the Earth Week series grew into the Sustainability Series, which occurred through the Spring 2011 semester (January through May, 2011). Our Sustainability/Earth Week Series of events include: guest speakers, film screenings, panel presentations, Eco-Fairs, Beach Clean-Ups and Tree Planting activities to name a few examples.

The planning for this year’s Earth Week Series was led by the Sustainability Committee and the FACE Center, plus numerous student groups such as the Campus Climate Challenge, Political Science Association, Public Relations Student Association, Physics Club, Women’s Student Union, etc. We also organize events with departmental representatives from across campus including Dance, Theater, Music, Political Science, Geosciences, Chemistry, etc.

We host a number of events in the community making use of our Opera house for two performances of ‘Arts for the Earth’, making use of our Village Commons area for a ‘Dumpster Dive’ and making use of local Coffee Houses for Film Screenings and panel discussions. Additionally we engage community members who also serve as environmental activists to serve as panelists for our discussions. We also host events such as the Green expo and Shake the habit which feature and encourage our local business community to be more sustainability minded and feature their green initiatives.

Our goals is to reach out to a wide array of people and organizations and to provide multiple venues/activities for people of various backgrounds to engage using artist interpretations, movies, actions- dumpster dives, duathlons, tree plantings, clean-ups. We recognize that every person has their own entry point into caring about the environment- all of that diversity.

To learn more about SUNY Fredonia’s innovative Earth Week Series, visit this website. To learn more about the FACE Center, visit this website.

What did your campus do for Earth Day/Week?

Native Plant Gardens

Dumpster Diving for Earth Week

Organic Lawn Care

Campus Spotlight: eCitizenship at William Paterson University of New Jersey

By Christine A. Kelly, Professor, William Paterson University of New Jersey

William Paterson University has undertaken a comprehensive approach to integrating web 2.0 tools into all our ADP initiatives.  We launched a student web design contest and had a entire web 2.0 makeover: our new website incorporates:

  1. Commmunity Mapping of 130 community Partners,
  2. Facebook and Twitter elements primarily supporting our Youth Vote 2K10 and 2K11 campaigns;
  3. An interactive searchable database aiming to match students and faculty (classes) with community partners seeking volunteers and support. Our site also features a YouTube window for related news clips or videos of interest.

William Paterson’s eCitizenship initiative has been strongly supported by our Provost. The adoption of a new general education program (University Core Curriculum) which boasts a 3-credit requirement in the area of “Civic and Community Engagement”  for all graduates has enlivened the institutional environment for all of ADP’s initiatives.

We have benefited from incorporating students through our student employment programs. We have hired three students to assist with program and office management as well as database management.  We have also utilized prize money to encourage student work in the are of graphic and web design.

We also built a student volunteer team for our Youth Vote (YV) 2k10 campaign which conducted “talks” in First Year Seminar classes and in three Paterson NJ area high schools.

The WPU Youth Vote 2K10 Team ("No Vote, No Piece!") visited with the students of Rosa Parks High School for the Performing Arts in Paterson NJ.

To learn more about William Paterson’s eCitizenship activities, please visit the following webpages:

William Paterson’s ADP Website

William Paterson’s Facebook Page

William Paterson’s Twitter Feed

Experience eRecruiting Network at Engage

William Paterson’s ADP New Jersey Community Engagement Map

State of the Student Union: Reclaiming Student Unions as Civic Spaces

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

What if there was a physical place on every college campus available for people to do public work? What if this place provided resources for students and university leaders to organize for positive change on campus and in their communities? What if this place educated students about civic life and engaged them in political activities?

Lately I have been thinking about the physical structures on university campuses and their various uses. Perhaps it’s because I am reading a book that criticizes many of the non-academic structures on campus (Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids). The argument in the book is that universities should be places for academic inquiry – not student recreation – and that university budgets should only allocate funds to structures and activities that reinforce education. While I believe there is some merit to this argument, I think that there is an important role for university student unions to play in fostering a healthier society and in educating informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. On far too many college campuses, though, student unions are only meeting the recreational needs of students and are doing very little – if anything – to enhance campus civic life.

I remember my early encounters with my first university’s Student Union (at Oregon State University). It houses a large emporium of food vendors, the student book store, a bowling alley, a recreation facility, and a ballroom with large, ancient couches. I spent a lot of time in the student union, usually studying or taking naps between classes, buying food or university merchandise, and – being in touch with my blue collar roots – bowling. I  was also able to attend many political events in the union and learn about civic opportunities in my community thanks to OSU’s dedication to using the union as a hub of civic life. The stated mission of OSU’s student union is below:

At the heart, our organization is about building community.  We believe that community contributes fundamentally to the quality of life of individuals and campus society.  We have a responsibility to create community that facilitates civic engagement and interaction.  The Memorial Union is an integration of three main units and goes about creating community in different ways: the Union through physical space, Student Leadership & Involvement through Events and Programs and Student Media through student run publications.  Within each of the three main units there are several subsections.

From what I learned during my limited research on the history of student unions on American colleges campuses, my civic experiences with the student union are somewhat unique. OSU’s student union falls in line with a long history of student unions whose primary purposes are to serve as recreational facilities for students.

The first American student union, Houston Hall, was established at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896 and was modeled after the University of Oxford’s Student Union. Houston Hall houses UPenn’s student government and, as is outlined in its constitution, “the object of Houston [Hall] is to draw together students, officers, and alumni of all Departments of the University in a wholesome social life, and to provide for them suitable amusements and recreations.” Indeed, the founders hoped that students would pass “their leisure hours in harmless recreation and amusement” (taken from UPenn’s website). Though Oxford’s Student Union was used as a model for Houston Hall, what is interesting about Houston Hall’s stated purpose is that it is somewhat of a departure from the foundational purposes of Oxford’s Student Union.

According to its website, Oxford’s Student Union can be traced back to the 13th Century and was created to help ease tensions between students of various nationalities who were fighting on campus. Such fighting at times resulted in student fatalities. The modern mission of Oxford’s Student Union is “to represent Oxford University students in the University’s decision-making, to act as the voice for students in the national higher education policy debate, and to provide direct services to the student body.” As you can see from reading its mission and visiting its website, Oxford’s Student Union pays close attention to civic life.  Since the establishment of the first student union at UPenn, almost every American university has followed suit and created student unions. Unfortunately, the original political and democratic purpose of Oxford’s Student Union is not often mimicked throughout this network of student unions.

Most American student unions are home to their Student Government Associations (SGA). Far too often, though, SGAs more closely resemble popularity contests than student-run democracy. In an ADP Blog post about student governments, Yasmin Karimian of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) wrote about her experience as student government president. In her blog post, Yasmin helps us think about a new role for student governments as agents and architects of democracy. The students at UMBC reformed the SGA into an organization on campus that works with students to solve community-based problems. To this end, Yasmin believes that “it is the time for student leaders to re-envision the function  of student governments across the nation. Imagine a world where we are all seen as creators of our own communities… Student governments could be the stepping stones to that world.” I couldn’t agree more. I believe that along with reforming student governments around the country, it is also time for university leaders to reclaim their student unions as civic spaces on campus. While I don’t believe that the recreational aspects of the student union should be totally abandoned, I do believe that we should use this space on campus to promote civic engagement.

How can we reclaim our student unions as civic spaces? Nancy Kranich, in her ADP Blog post about Academic Libraries as civic spaces, provides the rough outline for a road map about how this might be done. Arizona State University also offers an interesting example of how student unions may be used as hubs of civic life on campus. Students at ASU are working to “shape the mission and vision for the [Student] Union [as a] future hub for programs related to community service, service learning, AmeriCorps, high impact careers and social entrepreneurship.” Student unions could also serve as the hub of student leadership in civic engagement initiatives on campus.

Would you like to reclaim your Student Union as a civic space? Below are some ideas about how you might do this.

  • Meet with your SGA president and learn about his or her hopes and dreams for the space. Challenge the president to think about how the student union may be used not only to entertain students but to engage them in civic life.
  • Host student civic events in the union.
  • Work with the SGA to establish a Democracy Plaza in the union so students might engage in ongoing conversations about democracy and pressing issues of the day.
  • Host voter education and registration outreach activities in the food court.
  • Host a Community Outreach Resource Fair in the union that will allow students to learn about community engagement opportunities.
  • Establish a room in the student union devoted to public work and use this room for student training on community organizing and public work.
  • Host political debates in the union.
  • Host town halls and forums on important issues impacting your local community.
  • What else? Please use the comments section below to add your ideas about how we might reclaim student unions as civic spaces.
For us to be serious about preparing students as civic agents, it is important for us to leverage every resource on campus to this end. Harnessing the often untapped civic power of student unions is one way we might create an institutional culture that fosters student civic development.

We the People Interview Series: Interview with Cheryl McClellan

As part of the Civic Agency initiative, we are conducting a special “We the People” interview series. In this series, we interview intriguing people with different perspectives on the “We the People” phase of our work in ADP. This is the third of many interviews that will be included in this series.

Seated: Rebecca Hamlin, Molly McInnis, Kayla Krebs, Heidi Austin Standing: Schyler Novak, Cheryl McClellan

Cheryl McClellan has worked in a broad range of educational venues, from serving as an HIV/AIDS counselor and advocate, working with people recovering from traumatic brain injuries, training people in First Aid and CPR, to working with children in her own son’s classroom.  Cheryl is passionate about education and special education in particular.  She is currently a graduate student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is working toward teaching licensure in special education with a dual emphasis in learning disabilities and emotional and behavior disorders (EBD).

During her time at Augsburg, Cheryl worked with Harry Boyte and Dennis Donovan, our two key partners in the Civic Agency initiative. Through this experience, Cheryl was able to lead a transformation in how special education is taught at Augsburg. What follows is her inspiring story.

Cecilia M. Orphan (CMO): Why did you join Public Achievement?

Cheryl McClellan (CM): For me it wasn’t about joining Public Achievement (PA). It was about joining an initiative that could better serve students often marginalized by our education system.  As I learned more and more about the initiative, I became really excited about PA as a model for transforming how we meet the needs of students with emotional and behavior disorders.  I also saw the potential of PA to shift the ways in which all students engage with each other and their communities.

CMO: What changes have you seen as a result of your participation in PA?

CM: I recently had to ask myself the same question – in preparation for a brief speech at Augsburg – and as I was thinking back over the past academic year, I was surprised by the amount of change I have experienced.

I didn’t know what to expect when I agreed to participate in the project.  All I knew was that I wanted to be a part of the Special Education department’s pilot program that was attempting to re-envision the way we teach students labeled Emotional Behavioral Disability (EBD). PA seemed to offer a new way to engage these students and integrate them into the fabric of their schools and communities. So often these are the students that are tucked out of sight in basement classrooms or in the furthest corners of schools.  They may go to school, but they are not part of the school culture. PA offered a way to change this, and it did.

I expected the students to develop new skills and uncover individual strengths, and they have done so.  Leaders and visionaries have emerged from this group of students often labeled as “behavior problems.” The students have announced their presence to the school community and redefined what it means to be in an EBD special education program.  The school culture is shifting. Students from general education are working with students from this special education program. Staff have recognized and celebrated the work of our PA students. Our PA students have become more visible as members of their school community.

Our PA group is also transforming culture and expectations outside of school. I am reminded of a recent conversation I had with a public school teacher over lunch. As I described our PA project aimed at installing a solar thermal system to heat the school’s water supply, this teacher stopped me and stated, “Middle school students are working on solar energy?” She continued, “Wait, you mean kids with EBD?”  This exchange sums up the subtle beliefs many have about students labeled EBD. Our pilot project is challenging these assumptions.

Personally, PA has changed the way I see myself as a future teacher.  I entered Augsburg planning to focus on learning disabilities as my specialty area. I could not envision working with students having emotional and behavior disorders. In some ways I bought into the stereotypes that many have about these students. This PA project has challenged my assumptions, and as a result of my experience with this PA project, I have added EBD to my teaching licensure. I now have a new understanding of civic engagement as a teaching tool and philosophy capable of bridging the divide between special education and the greater community.

I also know that PA has changed how I see myself in my non-teaching roles. I know I am a better citizen, better community member, and better parent as result of being part of this project. I refuse to accept any less of myself than what I ask from my students, and I am finding my public voice and civic commitment as a result.

CMO: What changes have you seen in your fellow college students?

CM: We all have benefitted from the hands-on experience of weekly coaching.  Our weekly PA meetings provided opportunities to put educational theory into practice and to meld teaching practices with PA philosophy.  We have watched – and learned from – the magic that can occur when students are excited and engaged their learning.

We have all gained confidence, not only in our skills as future teachers but also as future colleagues.  Unlike many PA projects, this one involved co-coaches. We have had to learn to build and maintain collaborative relationships. In the end, the biggest change I’ve seen is that we have transformed from being scared students to seeing ourselves as professionals.

Northern Kentucky University Holds Town Hall Using eTools

I often say that social networking tools are not meant to replace face-to-face interactions and civic organizing; instead they are met to supplement these efforts. NKU provides us with an excellent example of what this can look like. – Cecilia M. Orphan

By Mark Neikirk, Northern Kentucky University

About 100 people gathered at Northern Kentucky University on Tuesday evening (May 10) for a town hall meeting with the new editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Carolyn Washburn. But another 40 watched on UStream, some of whom also followed – and contributed to – a live Twitter report on Cover It Live, a newer player on the online scene that is proving to be an exceptional tool for expanding an event’s virtual audience. Ms. Washburn, who came to Cincinnati for the Des Moines Register in January, talked about changes she made in the Enquirer and plans to make, and she sought the audience’s input during an interactive session that used Turning Point “clickers” for real-time audience feedback. By the event’s end, the UStream video was archived on the UStream site. The event is part of an ongoing series of public affairs events hosted by the Northern Kentucky Forum, which is a partnership of NKU’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and two other nonpartisan groups, Vision 2015 and Legacy, dedicated to civic and civil dialogue around public policy and current events. The “e” components of the Forum began with marketing (email blasts; Linked In; Facebook; online news websites) and continued during the event itself with Turning Point, Ustream, Twitter (hashtag #cincyeditor), Cover It Live and the ability of smart phone users to send in their questions to the live event.

To view the video from the Town Hall, visit this website.

eJournal of Public Affairs will Accept Submissions in June

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

I am pleased to announce that we will be accepting submissions for publication in the eJournal of Public Affairs in June 2011. This early launch of the eJournal Public Affairs is due to Rachelle Darabi and Missouri State University’s leadership and support of the project.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we are in the process of creating an online journal and academic social network for the American Democracy Project. This journal grew out of the work of the eCitizenship initiative. We envision the journal having the following the elements:

  • Peer Review
  • Interactive, social networking hub (a place to propose and refine research topics)
  • A showcase for pedagogical tools
  • An ongoing symposium for working papers
  • Assessment strategies for civic learning outcomes
  • A showcase for student activities and projects
We will release the Call for Submissions at the ADP National Meeting in Orlando, June 2-4, 2011. After the ADP Meeting, I will post the Call for Submissions on the ADP Blog and share it with all ADP Contacts. Please watch for it on this blog.
The results to the query we conducted in preparation for the launch of this eJournal demonstrated a profound need for scholarly outlets for engaged scholarship and research on civic engagement. It is our hope that this eJournal will deepen and advance the civic engagement movement. If you have any questions about the eJournal, feel free to contact me:

Don’t Miss This Summer’s Democracy Exchanges

Taken from the Campaign for a Stronger Democracy’s website.

The Campaign for Stronger Democracy will host a series of conversations this summer, called Democracy Exchanges, in order to explore important issues that impact the democracy reform community.

Each month, we’ll spotlight a different topic and ask key leaders to share about their experience working on the topic during a one hour conference call. Additionally, we will set aside 10 minutes from each call in order to give a few other organizations a chance to provide a quick briefing on an important new project or campaign that the community should know about.

To sign up to participate in one or all of the Democracy Exchanges scheduled for this summer, register here.

How Can We More Effectively Appeal to New Audiences?
June 7, 2011 @ 2 p.m. eastern

Join Nick Nyhart of Public Campaign and Amalia Deloney of the Center for Media Justice in a discussion about how democracy reformers can recruit new allies and broaden public support by communicating about our issues more effectively. Public Campaign and the Center for Media Justice have both worked to frame campaign finance and media reform in ways that resonate with groups that traditionally are focused on other issues. Learn about what these organizations have tried and discuss what lessons we as a community can learn about how we frame our work and reach out to others.

How Can We Better Involve New Immigrants in our Civic Life?
July 7, 2011 @ 2 p.m. eastern

Join David Lubell of Welcoming America along with Terry Amsler and Mahvach Hassan of the California Institute for Local Government in a discussion about the importance of immigrant “welcoming”, civic inclusion, and their place in the broader democracy reform agenda. We will hear about the exciting work that David, Terry and Mahvash have been leading to involve local governments and their communities to more actively welcome and engage immigrants in the civic and political life of their communities. Learn about this innovative work and discuss the different ways that democracy reformers can support immigrant civic inclusion.

How Can We Fight Budget Cuts that Threaten Our Democracy?
August 2, 2011 @ 1 p.m. eastern

Join Daniel Schuman of the Sunlight Foundation, Julie Murphy of the Points of Light Institute, and Ted McConnell of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools in a discussion about federal budget cuts and what we can learn from the FY2011 budget process to prepare for potential cuts in FY2012. The recent political battle over the federal budget saw threats to awide array of programs that are important to a healthy democracy, including public media, national service, civic education programs, immigrant civic integration grants, open government programs, public financing of elections, and more. Learn about what took place for FY2011 and discuss what we as a community can do to protect against future cuts.

Save the Date

Sign up here to participate in one or all of the Democracy Exchanges. We will send around call-in details and other information soon.

Central State University Students Moderate Forum in Alipuippa, Pennsylvania

I want to share this story that was written for the National Issues Forum website about Central State University’s National Issues Forum. CSU is an AASCU school and NIF is an ADP partner organization. As you can see, both institutions are doing important democratic work. – Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

(The story below was taken from the NIF website.)

Students from Central State working with Kettering Foundation consultant, Patty Dineen before Aliquippa forum

On April 9th, the students trained by Kettering Foundation consultants to serve as National Issues Forum Leaders, went to Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, to use their skills in a community forum on Closing the Achievement Gap.  The forum was jointly sponsored by The Franklin Center of Beaver County, The Kettering Foundation, and Central State University –Institute of Urban Education.

In May of 2010, Central State University (CSU) formed a partnership with the Aliquippa School District and the Franklin Center of Beaver County to provide the best educational opportunities for students in Aliquippa and around Beaver County. This promise was further extended through the efforts from The Aliquippa Council of Men and Fathers, a coalition of men working through the Franklin Center to better the center, to help high school students get in to college.

Some of the students chosen to participate were actually from the city where the forum was held.  These students are part of a pipeline project led by Mr. Curtis Pettis called The Aliquippa Project.  The students attending the forum from Aliquippa and participating were Markeata Gates, Shon Owens, and Christian Berry.  Other students attending from the project were Troy Dawkins, Brandon Barrow, Antonio Reddic, Danielle Brown and Albertine Bright, their peer mentor.  Also attending and participating were College of Education students, Michael Copeland, Jasmine Dortch, April Malone, and Adrianna Brown.

Markeata Gates presenting at forum in Aliquippa High School

For a Saturday morning, there was a good turnout of people that showed an interest in the topic. The students presented several possible approaches and then asked the community to respond. The responses were sincere and full of information about what they felt needed to be done in their community to make academic achievement a top priority for everyone.

At the end of the forum, each person was asked to state one action step they planned to take as a response to the issue.  Some of the plans discussed were to tell more people about the wonderful work the Franklin Center was doing with Central State University and to encourage more students to attend college. One citizen suggested that each adult present could personally find a student and mentor them throughout their academic career. The major outcome was that the community needed more forums like this one and they are going to plan them for the future.

When the students were asked by Dr. Kaye Jeter, the Executive Director of the Institute of Urban Education, Shon Owens stated that this was a very scary task, but “I learned so much about how to present in public audiences.”  April Malone and Mike Copeland did an excellent job providing input for the ending reflections. They were responsible for calling the audience to action. All of the students that participated and attended learned many techniques and increased their moderating skills.

At the end of the program Mr. Jonathan Pettis the Executive Director of the Franklin Center charged everyone with continuing this community dialogue so that there would be more students aspiring to attend college and certainly Central State.

For further information contact:
Dr. Kaye Manson Jeter
Executive Director-Institute of Urban Education
Central State University

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