NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students will be part of newly established collaborations that will engage more than 50,000 student volunteers and stakeholders, and 17,000 community members in service activities during the observance of the MLK Day holiday. This is the result of a $447,000 grant that the TSU Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement received from The Corporation for National and Community Service to undertake programs geared toward the Day of Service held each year across the nation in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The total amount of the grant is a combination of federal and matching funds.
Established in 1993, the CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through different programs each year. The funding is intended to mobilize more Americans to observe the MLK Federal Holiday as a day of service in communities. The goal is to encourage those who serve during the holiday to make a long-term commitment to community service, and to bring people together to focus on service to others.
According to Shirley Nix- Davis, director of the Youth Empowerment Program- College Access Now at TSU, and one of the project directors for the grant, the funding will be used to implement a one-year Spread the Service Mini Grant Competition through collaboration with the Center for Service Learning and the HBCU Coalition, beginning in October.
“The project seeks to align the missions of HBCUs and The Corporation for National and Community Service’s mission with MLK Jr.’s legacy to invest in community solutions, create collaborations that value diversity, and improve educational outcomes for the economically disadvantaged,” Nix-Davis said.
Tequila Johnson, project assessment coordinator in the CSLCE, who along with Nix-Davis procured the grant, said the project will bring together about 10 HBCUs in the southeast region through community service and capacity building initiatives that strategically address disaster services, economic opportunity, education, and capacity building. TSU students, who participate in several service activities as part of course requirements, and area community participants, will be integral to the implementation of the project, Johnson said.
Last year, through 156 community partnerships, 4,013 TSU students logged a total of 47,316 hours in the classroom and in various activities around the metro Nashville area. Many students say the experience has given them a better outlook on life.
“The Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement has allowed me to connect with the community in many capacities throughout my collegiate career,” said Jalen Hussey, a senior Computer Science major from Memphis, Tennessee. “As a mentor for the YEP/CAN (Youth Empowerment College Access Now Program), I have had the opportunity to assist young at-risk males with college access and academic success. This experience has instilled a commitment to service within me.”
Dr. Linda Guthrie, director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, said the MLK Day of Service connects students with their community by challenging them to think critically about issues going on around them.
“Tennessee State University has a long history of service to others, which is central to the institution’s mission and academic curriculum,” Guthrie said. “Our students come to TSU with the expectation to serve. They often find opportunities to do that through day-ofservice events, community organizations or in the classroom. Through events such as this our students have the opportunity to not only serve, but to create and lead projects that change their lives and the lives of others. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to engage several HCBUs in service.”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.