HWS Receives Highest U.S. Honor for Service – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Receives Highest U.S. Honor for Service

Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been recognized nationally as one of only four institutions named for the President’s Award for Education Community Service in a recent Honor Roll of nearly 800 colleges and universities considered for the prestigious recognition.

In addition for the fifth consecutive year, Hobart and William Smith have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

The designation for service to education is in recognition of HWS’ commitment to improving educational outcomes for children and youth in pre-kindergarten through undergraduate education.

“This advanced designation is a testament to the hard work of our students, faculty and staff who have made civic engagement at the local, national and international levels a priority in the classroom and in their personal lives,” says Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith. “The ongoing recognition by the Corporation for National and Community Service speaks to the priorities of the Colleges and of our mission to prepare students to lead lives of consequence.”

Launched in 2006 by the CNCS, the Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities that support innovative, effective and exemplary community service programs, achieving meaningful outcomes for their communities. Honorees for the category of Education Community Service were selected based on service that addresses school readiness, strengthens schools, addresses early warning indicators such as attendance and behavior issues, boosts high school graduation rates and helps to prepare for college success. A complete list of this year’s winners can be found at www.nationalservice.gov/HonorRoll.

Civic engagement is at the center of the HWS educational experience. Students contribute more than 80,000 hours of service and more than $110,000 in fundraising dollars to local, national and international non-profit endeavors. All students participate in local community service activities during their four years. This year, several avenues of programming at Hobart and William Smith in regards to the category of education were noted in the submission process including

  • The Geneva 2020 initiative which works to increase graduation rates, literacy and college readiness for students in the Geneva School District. Last week, Gearan was invited by The White House to join other national leaders in higher education for a summit which focused on efforts to expand college access for underserved and low-income students.
  • Boys and Girls Club volunteer engagement which pairs HWS students with youth who attend programs offered by the non-profit organization. One of several programs staffed by HWS student volunteers was an afterschool homework program which saw 94 percent of youth advancing to the next grade level.
  • Collaboration with Geneva Reads which sponsors an annual Community Read and works to raise the level of literacy in people of all ages and to increase the importance of reading and the reader in the Geneva community. An HWS student created Community Read discussion guides and tool kits of educational and fun lessons about immigration and citizenship to use with the Community Read book “Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America” by Helen Thorpe.

“The Honor Roll designation serves primarily to highlight the partnership between HWS and the Geneva community. The application detailed our extensive work with our local partners in the community that is provided through service-learning courses and community based research projects. This important work enables our students to view civic engagement with a wider lens and develop their own service and advocacy initiatives,” says Katie Flowers, director for the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at HWS.  

Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, praised the work of the HWS community. “Hobart and William Smith are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems. By recognizing the institutions who are leading the way to achieve meaningful, measurable results for the communities they serve, we also highlight the vital role all colleges and universities play in addressing community challenges and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.”

The Colleges have been named to the Honor Roll six times since the Honor Roll’s inception in 2006. In its 2012 Liberal Arts Colleges “College Guide” rankings, Washington Monthly ranked Hobart and William Smith eighth in the nation in the category of community service. The Colleges were recently named one of Kaplan/Newsweek’s “25 Best Schools for Do-Gooders.”  Hobart and William Smith have also been listed in The Princeton Review‘s “Colleges with a Conscience: An Engaged Student’s Guide to College,” which ranked HWS as one of best institutions for service learning and civic engagement.

The CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and champions community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.