On October 19, 2011, Volunteer Calgary, in partnership with the University of Calgary and Cenovus Energy, officially launched our Community Service Learning program at a breakfast reception at the University of Calgary. Over 70 stakeholders were present, including students, faculty, non-profit organizations, leaders in post-secondary education and our CSL corporate partner, Cenovus Energy.
Dr. Ryan Lee, Interim Vice Provost (students) from the University of Calgary, kicked off the morning by sharing a few of the key benefits that students gain by participating in this type of program, acknowledging that CSL students are more likely to graduate and are better equipped for success once they are out in the working world. Mary Jardine, Manager of Volunteer Services at Bethany Care Society, also spoke to the group about her most recent experience with CSL concluding that the entire process was definitely ‘one of the highlights’ of her career.
So just what is CSL? CSL uses experiential learning, in the form of purposeful volunteer experience, to bring to life theories and skills learned in the post-secondary classroom. Students volunteer to expand their learning and learn the value of volunteering with non-profit members. Non-profit members benefit from the work of motivated, skilled students working on specific projects.
In a nutshell, it is an infusion of student power that can make a real difference to your organization and the students can experience a real life boost in their learning. Service-learning is about connecting to faculty, building and strengthening skills, and meeting needs in the community.
Well-organized and executed CSL projects offer non-profits new perspectives, input and completed work by enthusiastic students with specialized skills and knowledge. These students are a temporary asset, directed and supported by experienced post-secondary faculty and your organization.
What role does Volunteer Calgary play in the CSL process?
- Volunteer Calgary connects a variety of post-secondary courses from several post-secondary institutions to our non-profit members’ relevant needs.
- Through a term-based proposal process we match skilled, motivated students with our members to create a co-learning environment from which both non-profits and students benefits.
- We support our members to more effectively engage and integrate specialized student volunteers.
For several years, Volunteer Calgary has been working closely with Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary. The faculties we work with at these two institutions are experienced with Community Service Learning and they champion CSL because they have seen the benefits to all the participants. Volunteer Calgary also works with our non-profit members to evaluate the CSL program regularly with the intent of improving its processes and outcomes.