Civic Learning, Democratic Engagement, Service-Learning and related Excellence Award

Category Abstract

This award area includes promoting the education of students for engaged citizenship through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning, and social responsibility.  These programs are meant to improve institutional culture, policy, and practice in order to advance an institution’s educational opportunities to prepare students for active citizenship and active participation in our nation's democracy.

Questions to ask: What connections can be made from your institutional history to de­mocracy, civic engagement, or your community? What specific skills and values do you hope to provide to your stu­dents and your graduates? How does your work improve and strengthen your community? What areas could be enhanced by civic learning, democratic engagement and service-learning work?

From FIVE THINGS Student Affairs Professionals Can Do to Institutionalize Civic Engagement

Laura E. Sponsler and Matthew Hartley    https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/5THINGS-AUG2013_WEB.pdf 

Excellence Awards Overview

NASPA recognizes the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration. All NASPA members are encouraged to enter recently developed and/or longstanding programs and initiatives for consideration for the NASPA Excellence Awards.

Programs selected for recognition in each category will receive one of three designations: Gold, Silver, or Bronze. The gold recipients from each category will be further judged for the designations of Grand Gold, Grand Silver, and Grand Bronze.

Submissions will be due by October 22, 2019. There is no specific time by which your submission must be made on October 22, 2019. Gold Award recipients will be recognized at the 2020 NASPA Annual Conference in Austin, TX. 

If the submission relates to a program that relies on substantive use of multimedia technology, a link to those materials should be embedded in the award submission. The materials must be accessible to committee members without the need for user identification or password.

  • Judging Criteria

    Entries within each category will be reviewed by a cross-section of experienced NASPA members. Three to five judges will independently review submissions using the following criteria:

    • Impact on student learning and success demonstrated through transition, retention, or achievement outcomes
    • Relevance to institutional mission and/or applicability to student affairs profession institutionally, regionally, or nationally
    • Success in addressing student needs or responding to critical campus concerns and issues
    • Involvement, inclusion, and collaboration with academic affairs and other campus departments in planning and implementation
    • Use of innovative and creative methods, practices, or activities including the use of social media and emerging learning technologies
    • Application of available or emerging theoretical models, practical research, and program assessment

    In addition, submissions will also be assessed for the quality of the program description, explanation of concepts, and clarity of writing. Please see this link for the rubric which will be used for assessment.

  • Recognition

    Gold Award recipients will:

    • Be placed in consideration for the NASPA Grand Gold Medal, NASPA Grand Silver Medal and NASPA Grand Bronze Medal designating the top three programs or initiatives.
    • Receive NASPA Excellence Awards Certificates of Gold.
    • Be prominently displayed at the NASPA Annual Conference.
    • Be invited to participate in a poster session recognizing all Gold Award recipients during the NASPA Annual Conference.
    • Be showcased in a collection of Gold Award recipients on the NASPA Excellence Awards web resource center.
    • Receive letters of commendation sent by NASPA to the institution's president, chief student affairs officer, and selected local media to announce the achievement.

    Silver and Bronze Award recipients will:

    • Receive NASPA Excellence Awards Certificates of Silver or Bronze.
    • Be included in a collection of selected entries on the NASPA Excellence Awards web resource center.
    • Receive letters of commendation from NASPA to the institution's president and chief student affairs officer.

    Grand Medal recipients:

    • The Gold Award recipient in each category will be further considered for the highest awards for program excellence -- the NASPA Grand Gold Medal, the NASPA Grand Silver Medal and the NASPA Grand Bronze Medal. The recipients of these three grand awards will be recognized during the NASPA Annual Awards Luncheon.

Excellence Awards

Award Information

Deadline: Oct. 22, 2019

Nominations for the 2019-2020 NASPA Excellence Awards are due October 22, 2019 at 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time.

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To be considered for a NASPA Excellence Award, you must submit the following information:

  • Correspond to Excellence Award category
  • Program title
  • Executive summary (500 words or less)
  • Information around Student Learning and/or Success, Mission and/or Advancement of Student Affairs, Student and/or campus needs, Collaboration and Sustainability, Originality and creativity, and Application of Research, Theory, and Assessment
  • Letters of support (maximum of three)

Current Excellence Award Recipients

  • Gold Winner
    GVSU Votes!

    Grand Valley State University

    The mission of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is to “educate students to shape their lives, their professions and their societies.” We see civic engagement as a right and responsibility of citizens, which is fundamental to the health and vibrancy of our democracy. GVSU has embedded this commitment to civic engagement in to our campus culture through the inclusion of outcomes and objectives in the 2016-21 GVSU Strategic Plan and the GVSU Civic Action Plan. Outcome 3.1 in the GVSU Civic Action Plan states, “Students at GVSU have increased levels of civic learning, democratic engagement and civic literacy.” This outcome aligns with and supports the multiple GVSU Strategic Plan objectives. We also demonstrate our commitment to civic engagement through our leadership role as a NASPA LEAD Consulting Institution. Here at GVSU, we aspire to educate students to “love the world enough to assume responsibility for it” (Arendt, 1958).

    View All Current Recipients
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  • Silver Winner
    Stony Brook University’s Center for Civic Justice

    Stony Brook University

    According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement coordinated by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University, students at Stony Brook University consistently registered to vote and voted at rates significantly below the national average. And, in 2012, only 70 undergraduate students registered to vote at new student orientation, which was less than three percent of the class of 2016. Since then, Stony Brook University has prioritized the transformation of its commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement amongst students, faculty, staff, and members of the wider community. Starting in 2015, Stony Brook University established a partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation to provide training and development for our student leaders who are committed to voter engagement—from voter registration to actually voting on Election Day. In just 18 months (June 2015 – November 2016), Stony Brook University went from an institution with below average student voter registration and voter turnout rates to one the nation’s leaders. During this time, more than 99 percent of the eligible incoming undergraduate classes successfully registered to vote at new student orientation. Over 10,000 students registered during this time frame. Additionally, 3,002 students voted at our on-campus polling site, which was an 86 percent voter turnout rate amongst registered voters. This was the highest voter turnout rate at any polling site in the United States during the 2016 Presidential Election. In order to ensure the continuity of our unprecedented growth and development in the areas of civic learning and democratic engagement, Stony Brook University established the Center for Civic Justice in January 2018. Recognizing that voter engagement is just one facet of community engagement and participation, the Center provides, services, support, and coordination for programs and opportunities that cultivate, develop, and empower active and engaged individuals to positively contribute to the betterment of their communities through awareness, advocacy, and action. The Center embraces that there is a developmental process to becoming engaged in one’s community, and its offerings model accordingly. Offering voter registration opportunities and providing small and large-scale spaces for facilitated dialogue about issues affecting the community, the Center instills that all students have the potential to be civically active and engaged. From there, the Center offers curricular and co-curricular developmental experiences for students who want the tools and skills necessary to engage others in community issues. And, finally, the Center supports a comprehensive internship and cooperative education program that position students to be change agents both locally and beyond. In just ten months, the Center now supports over 50 student interns and coop participants who are focused on addressing community needs—from food insecurity and homelessness to voter engagement impediments. At Stony Brook University, we are committed to excellence both locally and beyond. As such, the Center is establishing a regional network across Long island that is committed to positioning our region as a national leader in the areas of civic learning and democratic engagement.

    View All Current Recipients
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  • Bronze Winner
    Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE)

    California State Universtiy, Chico

    Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE), is the largest student-run organization on the Chico State campus. CAVE’s mission is to provide Chico State students with meaningful volunteer opportunities, develop student leaders, and serve a broad base of community needs. Since 1966 CAVE has placed 50,000 volunteers in 93 student-run programs. CAVE volunteers have served 3,000,000 hours to over 1,000,000 community members. In the 2017-2018 academic year, 139 student interns placed a total of 2,148 students. Of those, 1,326 were volunteers in our 13 student-run programs and 822 were students enrolled in 68 sections of service learning courses. Those students delivered 67,379 hours to our community, serving 15,788 individuals in need at 29 different sites. The name CAVE was taken from the allegory of the cave in Plato's The Republic. The allegory of the cave represents how students in a classroom are like prisoners in a cave whose learning comes from shadows on a wall. CAVE’s motto “Life is for Learning” supports the program’s philosophy that the community is a classroom for hands-on learning. All of our programs are student-run. CAVE’s organizational structure has been a key to the program’s success and longevity. There are 2.5 professional staff members and 60 student interns, the majority of whom are volunteers. Group leaders recruit, interview, train, and support a case-load of volunteers. Coordinators supervise group leaders, serve as site liaisons, and facilitate reflection sessions. Directors provide leadership to a specific group of programs and develop all-staff trainings. Students can volunteer in a specific, semester-long program, participate in a one-time service projects through Weekend Wildcat, volunteer during campus-wide days of service, or join an Alternative Spring Break trip. Kids Programs are designed to meet the special needs of children ages 5-17, including those who are physically, emotionally, and developmentally disabled. Programs: Classroom Aide, Tutorial, Helping Hands, NASA (Noon and Afterschool Activities), EXCEL, and America Reads. Community Connections Programs serve a variety of social, recreational and educational needs of older adults and people who are experiencing homelessness, as well as working on environmental projects and with local animal shelters. Programs: Adopt-a-Park, Senior Circle, Animal Connection, Adopted Grandparent, and Community Outreach Ambassadors. CAVE partnered with the Wildcat Leadership Institute and the Office of Civic Engagement to offer a Civic Engagement Leadership Certificate. We aligned student affairs and academic affairs in a series of five workshops. Led by University faculty, the workshops facilitated discussion and reflections on such topics as Dialogues across Differences, Social Service vs Social Change, and Basing Social Change in the Community. All 70 staff members attended one workshop and 24 received a certificate by attending four workshops. Participants completed an assessment and wrote a reflection essay for each workshop they attended. The majority of our $258,000 budget comes from student fees. We receive additional funding through fundraising, grants and University support for service learning administration.

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Past Excellence Award Recipients

  • 2018
    Gold Winner
    The NYU Know Your Rights Project and Travel Monitor Program

    New York University

    Learn More
  • 2018
    Silver Winner
    Student Service and Leadership Collaborative

    University of Nebraska at Omaha

    Learn More
  • 2018
    Bronze Winner
    Towson University’s Voter Registration, Education, and Post-Election Efforts

    Towson University

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