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New NIFI Issue Guide: “Bridging and Bonding – Creating Engaged Communities in a Time of Rapid Change”

By Renee Baharaeen, AASCU Civic Engagement Intern and Truman State University Student

Our friends at the National Issues Forums Institute bring you a new 16-page issue guide, titled Bridging and Bonding: How Can We Create Engaged Communities in a Time of Rapid Change?, was created by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation and Franklin Pierce University.

Bridging and Bonding – How Can We Create Engaged Communities in a Time of Rapid Change?

As time has progressed, Americans are now beginning to work longer and harder than they have historically. With a societal focus shifting towards the importance of income, a decrease can be seen in civic engagement activities and volunteering. Changes also show a decline in community “social capital”, or connecting with others. Additionally, emerging trends reveal technology and entertainment are becoming more prevalent in society and causing changes in communication practices.

This guide presents readers with three ideas on how to revitalize the importance of an engaged community in a rapidly changing time.

Option 1: Embrace the Change and Affirm Differences

The first option focuses on accommodating a diverse population. Diversity is increasing in America, and it is important to understand and accept the changes. However, this option also comes with a risk that more traditional members of civic organizations will resist new changes. Additionally, this option could potentially create weaker relationships due to a lack in the quality of communication practices.

Option 2: Strengthen and Renew Traditional Ways of Connecting

Option 2 encourages creating ways for community members to bond in person. It is based on the idea that physical contact is how individuals create strong relationships. Focusing on the community will put an emphasis on cultural importance, giving everyone a role to play. On the contrary, this idea can also create fragmented communities, not encouraging communication with others outside of the local population. Additionally, resources spent on cultural efforts may take away resources from other societal concerns such as poverty, education, and health care.

Option 3: Meet People Where They Are

The final option is to understand and accept the social and economic circumstances of individuals. While time may not be an affordable option, people may be willing to contribute to their community in other ways such as donating money. It is important to consider, however, that this option may encourage economic and professional development emphasizing individualism rather than collectivism.

Learn more about the issue guide here and download the issue guide (pdf) here.

Partner Spotlight: 9 Finalists Announced for NCoC’s Service Year + Higher Ed Innovation Challenge

Congratulations to San Jose State University (Calif.) and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, two AASCU/ADP institutions. And also, congratulations to Miami Dade College (Fla.) and the Alamo Colleges (Texas), members of The Democracy Commitment!

NCoC and the Franklin Project launched the Service Year + Higher Ed: Innovation Challenge in January. Over 30 public, private, and community colleges from across the country submitted applications, nine were chosen as finalists.The Challenge calls on higher ed institutions to creatively integrate learning with national service into the college experience. It is supported by Lumina Foundation and in partnership with the Corporation for National & Community Service.

Applicants are competing for one of three $30,000 prizes and an additional $10,000 Audience Choice Award, all of which is supported by Lumina Foundation. On April 15, all finalists will be invited to present their ideas to a high-profile panel of judges in Washington, DC.

To learn more, please visit

Community Colleges

Alamo Colleges is proposing to extend their partnership with Public Allies by creating opportunities for currently enrolled first-generation students with at least 12 credit hours to integrate a 10-month, full-time, service year into their college experience. The students would receive 6 credits for their service.

Miami Dade College is proposing a Changemaker Corps, a peer to peer mentoring and support program that helps youth who have aged out of foster care mentor other foster care system students, with the goal of helping them stay in school, graduate, and develop employability skills. The mentors’ service year would be 20 hours per week for 9 months, for which they would receive 3 credits and professional development.

Salt Lake Community College is proposing a Civically Engaged Scholar program where participating students would serve 20 hours per week for an academic year with community partners in the Salt Lake area. They would receive 3 credits for their service and related coursework, and would receive a distinction on their transcript.

Public Universities

San Jose State is proposing a Restore Coyote Creek service year program to enlist students across disciplines in the restoration, beautification, and recreational development of Coyote Creek. Participating students would participate in direct service and support efforts to mobilize the community. The 10-month, 20-hour per week service year would be connected to 8 academic credits plus linked to additional related courses.

The University of Kentucky is proposing a Kentucky Scholar Intern program where participating juniors or seniors would be placed in state or local government agencies, or with nonprofits, in the most under-resources areas of the state. The 11-month, full-time service year would be connected to 30 academic credits.

UMass Dartmouth is proposing a Community Health Worker: Advocate! Navigate! Educate!service year. The service year builds upon the Universities College Now Program, a five year alternative admissions option for students from culturally diverse backgrounds and economically challenged families. The 12 month service year will provide a total of 12 academic credits and position participants to complete a minor in leadership and civic engagement.

Keep Your Campus Globally Connected, Anytime, Anywhere, via


The New York Times in Education offers a wealth of resources, activities and events to engage students in and out of the classroom. enhances the educational experience for students and faculty alike by connecting them to the world off campus, enhancing awareness of current events and fostering critical thinking.

To learn more about our newest offering, Academic Site License, or our other affordable education digital offerings, please contact Lynn Hall, National Education Director at

And be sure to check out the free AASCU/The New York Times Teaching Toolkit.


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