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Program Gives Students Credit for Community Service

Learning isn’t limited to the classroom.

In growing numbers, students are complementing their course work with a 1-credit community service project. This semester, 55 students—the majority from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)—are working with 31 nonprofits across Washington, including Human Rights Campaign, D.C. Reads, and the Newseum, as part of AU’s Community Service Learning Program (CSLP).

Last semester, 19 students participated in CSLP’s extra credit option, which is administered by the Center for Community Engagement and Service (CCES), essentially earning 4 credits for a 3-credit course. In addition, there are university courses that require community service, which are not part of the CSLP extra credit option.

“When you live in an urban area like D.C. with an array of problems, you have a responsibility to get out there and interact with the community,” said Marcy Fink Campos, CCES director. “It’s wonderful for our students to apply their skills and knowledge in a real-world setting, and feel like they’re making a difference in the community.”

In order to earn the extra credit, students must complete at least 40 hours of service work related to the course. Throughout the semester, they participate in workshops and reflection sessions with CCES staff, and at the end of the term, they write a paper or prepare a presentation on their experiences.

And students do far more than filing for the organizations, which include the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Common Good City Farm, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Kogod students crafted a fund-raising campaign benefitting children’s and military charities, while CAS students taught ESL classes for adults. Students have also made films and developed public relations campaigns for their organizations.

“These kinds of activities not only benefit the organizations, but they give our students something tangible to put on a résumé,” said Campos.

Students can participate in the CSLP extra credit option up to three times during their academic career.