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Washington, D.C.—The Corporation for National and Community Service recently awarded the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) a $433,874 Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant to design and implement a new civic minor in urban education. The minor will integrate K-12 service-learning experiences with urban public policy coursework, offering pre-service teachers and other undergraduates a coherent understanding of the larger context of urban education.

“This project reflects AASCU’s historic commitment to teachers, urban schools and civic engagement,” said AASCU President Muriel Howard. “Our members are uniquely positioned to undertake this initiative and to enhance the preparation of students who, as teachers, can have a profound affect on the learning experiences of K-12 students in the vital area of civic education.”

The minor seeks to instill a deeper commitment to civic engagement and democratic professionalism, and AASCU’s work in this arena and robust framework of existing partnerships and national programs make it the ideal coordinator of this 3-year pilot project. Five AASCU campuses will be selected to participate through an RFP process, and faculty in liberal arts and sciences and teacher education from each participating campus will partner with local K-12 urban educators to create the minor. In addition, internationally recognized experts—including The Washington Center and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship—will provide educators with training and ongoing professional development in service-learning and urban public policy.

Responding to the grant announcement, James Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University and chair of the AASCU board of directors, said, “If we are going to thrive as a nation, our cities must help lead the way. Strong cities require strong educational systems, and strong education systems require teachers who combine a passion for their work with a deep understanding of what it means to teach in an urban environment. This project will help advance that goal.”

At the conclusion of the project, participating institutions will disseminate the civic minor models they have created to the more than 400 member institutions of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

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