Civic Engagement: A Year in Review - University of Houston
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Civic Engagement: A Year in Review

August 1, 2018 - The University of Houston (UH) is concluding its second year as a member of the NASPA Lead Initiative cohort. Out of the approximately 1,200 institutions that have a membership with NASPA, 84 were selected as a Lead Institution for 2017-2018. This group of institutions represents a network of colleges and universities with a deep commitment to promoting Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) opportunities for students, the campus, and the community. Selection to this cohort was based on current civic engagement work and the areas of institutional focus for future growth.

Throughout the last year, the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) has partnered with multiple departments in the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, student organizations, academic departments, and community organizations to further the CLDE opportunities available at UH.

Due to the devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August, there were numerous opportunities to support the members of the UH and Houston communities through relief and recovery efforts. Through the Harvey Donation Drive, coordinated by CSI, over 5,300 items were collected and distributed to students, faculty, and staff at UH during the first two weeks back on campus. During that same two week timeframe, 147 students reported nearly 1,500 service hours spent serving meals at shelters, sorting donations, mucking out homes, and more. Despite many students, faculty, and staff being directly impacted by Harvey, the UH community truly came together to support each other through such a difficult time for our city.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, students logged 10,912 volunteer hours with a monetary impact of $261,881.20 based on the value of volunteer time provided by the Independent Sector. During the 2017-2018 academic year, students logged 15,894 volunteer hours, a 45.66% increase from last year, valued at $392,422.86. A total of 33 students earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award, by contributing a minimum of 100 volunteer hours during the year. This year, an impressive 7 students contributed over 250 volunteer hours and earned the Gold medallion, a 600% increase from 2016-2017. Over 230 students participated in the Weeks of Welcome and Martin Luther King, Jr. Days of Service, contributing over 700 hours of service to the Houston community with the support of 10 unique community partners.

CSI also worked to promote education and awareness about how to end human trafficking by hosting End It for the first time. Through collaborating with the Women & Gender Resource Center, the Student Centers, and the Modern Abolitionist Coalition, CSI engaged over 150 students in a photo campaign highlighting facts about human trafficking both on college campuses and in the local Houston community. Five community partners focused on ending human trafficking also joined for End It and shared educational and volunteer opportunities with students.

In collaboration with Student Housing & Residential Life, CSI launched the Impact living learning community during fall 2017. A group of 12 students learned about social issues impacting Houston through participating in service projects and a series of educational opportunities. One student who lived in the Impact community shared, “It goes without saying that living in the Impact Living Learning Community was critical to my success in my first year at the University of Houston. I truly enjoyed the program and am very grateful for all of the opportunities it provided.”

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Keith Kowalka, shared, “The Center for Student Involvement hosts a range of civic engagement programs and initiatives that contribute to our students becoming more engaged citizens both on campus and in the greater Houston community. We strive to instill the value of giving back to the community in our students, as this is a priority for the University of Houston.”

More about the Center for Student Involvement
CSI provides involvement opportunities for students at the University of Houston main campus. The University of Houston’s diverse population ensures that there is a place for everyone, and The Center for Student Involvement helps each student find it. Over 500 student organizations are registered with CSI and it is the central location for leadership programs and civic engagement opportunities. Advising staff assist fee-funded groups with the event planning of campus events and traditions. The guidance and educational experiences offered by the department cultivates skills that will be useful for a lifetime.