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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


Feb. 28, 2002 – A $20,000 grant awarded to the University of the Virgin Islands will implement a student service-learning project that addresses needs of the V.I. community.
The Service-Learning Project, funded by the Corporation for National Service through the Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges, seeks to establish UVI as a partner in addressing social issues, and to provide meaningful learning opportunities for UVI students.
The award will support UVI faculty who include a community service component in their courses, and will develop agency interest in student participation. The program, which will be directed by St. Croix-based Robin Groelle, will encompass both St. Thomas and St. Croix communities. Students who participate will receive credit in their courses for service to designated community agencies.
It's the law already – for V.I. high school students
While the idea of volunteer service may not be familiar to all UVI entering students, it is not a new concept to Virgin Islands secondary school students. The V.I. Senate put Act No. 6233 on the books in 1998 from a bill sponsored by Sen. Norman Jn.-Baptiste. The Act's initial language states "high schools in the Virgin Islands," without a limit to public or private, and mandates required hours of volunteer service by students during their four years of high school.
Individual schools contacted vary widely in their recommendations or requirements. At the present time, Charlotte Amalie High School seniors are required to perform 200 hours of community service over their four years; entering freshmen are required to perform 500 hours during their four years. St. Croix Central High School presently "encourages and recommends" volunteer service; entering ninth graders are required to perform 25 hours per year. St. Croix Educational Complex has a required amount, but no guidance counselors were available Thursday to provide details. Ivanna Eudora Kean High School requires 10 hour of present seniors; entering ninth graders have an increased requirement.
A telephone survey of private schools suggests that nearly all, if not all, require or expect students to participate in volunteer community service programs. Several guidance counselors observed that this component has become a standard request on college applications – although UVI admission forms do not contain this specific query.
It's the habit already – for V.I. high school students
United Way executive director Thyra Hammond says she has long used the services of both high school and college students, under various programs. She praised the level of performance and attention brought by the students. "We couldn't manage without the high school students," she said, "or the college students particularly during the summers, when United Way is organizing its fall fundraising mailings.
She mentioned especially a UVI student, Shenelle Francis, who has volunteered faithfully through several semesters.
Hammond praised the Friends of Volunteers in Public Schools for their annual orientation "fair," an event started by Valerie George. Nonprofit agencies set up tables for the day at a site where students are brought to learn about the various nonprofit groups that they might become volunteers for. Hammond noted that more nonprofits need to participate in this event, so students can learn about a wider variety of local nonprofit groups that need volunteer help.
Nonprofits invited to participate in UVI's present project
Community service agencies and nonprofit organizations interested in partnering with UVI under the newly awarded grant to meet community needs are encouraged to contact Groelle at 778-1620 ext. 3184. The award runs through July, and plans are in place to request a renewal award through July of 2003.
Judith Rogers, St. Croix campus librarian, and Lucia DiMeo, a communications instructor on the St. Croix campus, authored the grant proposal. In their proposal they noted that, "as the only institution of higher education in the territory, UVI is uniquely positioned to influence community norms and to identify solutions to social issues that plague our community."
They further found that UVI students "need opportunities for varied experiences to ensure their development as responsible and productive citizens at a time when nonprofit agencies are in dire need of volunteer participation."
Perhaps this program will lead a biology major to serve with Doctors Without Borders, a nursing student to Project Hope in Bangladesh, or a business graduate ultimately to the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the Ford Foundation.
Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 750 colleges and universities that are actively engaged in community service. As a requirement of the award, UVI will now become a member of that group.

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