Butler University’s Center for Citizenship and Community (CCC) has been awarded an $11,320 AmeriCorps grant to help facilitate community service among Butler students.
“It’s a little bit odd, because we haven’t really received money,” Dr. Donald Braid, director of the CCC, said. “We have received the possibility of education stipends, so students who complete 300 hours of service are eligible to receive an $11,320 education stipend, which can be used to pay loans, tuition or any other expenses related to education.”
Some of the primary beneficiaries of the AmeriCorps grant will be student employees of the CCC, known as Advocates for Community Engagement (ACE).
Senior Lauren Graham, ACE leader, said it is their job to act as a liaison between Butler and the community to make the service learning process run smoothly between university students and volunteer sites.
“We monitor the volunteers that come from Butler at their designated volunteer site,” Graham said. “We monitor the volunteers that come in, schedule the times they come in and what it is exactly that they might be doing when they come in.”
Braid said having student employees on staff is crucial to the success and survival of the CCC’s service learning projects.
“I can’t be at every site, so I have to trust the ACEs to help build and maintain the relationships between Butler students and the sites we’re sending them to,” Braid said. “Trust is an absolute essential in those relationships.
“The ACE is there to understand what the volunteers are there for and to understand what the site needs, so that the students can do something of value at the site and it becomes a positive thing.”
This year, for the first time, Butler is making sure that students volunteer by requiring freshmen to take a service learning class.
“There are around 30 sections of service learning classes this semester and we’re adding more every minute,” Braid said.
Although being an ACE requires hard work and dedication, Graham said she stays with it because she gets to see constant improvement at the volunteer site—both within the Butler volunteers and within herself.
“I think the biggest thing for me has to do with what I’ve been learning throughout the last year and the people that I’ve met,” Graham said.
“My networking has skyrocketed and I know so much more now about the community that I never knew before I got this job.”
Graham said she enjoys seeing her peers receive the same gratification she has experienced herself.
“When you know somebody is coming to volunteer because they have a certain amount of service hours that they need to fulfill, but then they go beyond those hours or they come back next semester, you see the impact that it’s making on them,” she said.
Sophomore ACE, Jasmen Rice, said she agrees with Graham that being an ACE is not only another job on campus—it’s a lifestyle.
“In simple terms, I’m helping and that’s kind of what I base my life off of– just to know that I’m helping,” Rice said.
Braid said that he hopes with the added incentive of the AmeriCorps grant, more students will be motivated to volunteer and feel the positive effects of service learning for themselves.
“This is a great opportunity for students to go out and learn about the community and to learn about themselves while providing a service,” Braid said. “What’s important is that it’s always reciprocal. I send students into the community because the community individuals can teach students things that we can’t teach them here on campus.”