St. Mary’s University is one of nine Texas colleges and universities chosen to participate in the Texas Campus Compact Students in Service (SIS) Awards for the 2011-12 academic year.

Texas Campus Compact is an Austin-based statewide nonprofit organization promoting service learning and civic engagement on higher education campuses and in communities. The grant program, now in its second year, provides stipends for 80 students who engage in service learning programs at a Texas Campus Compact member college or university. Currently, more than 70 private and public higher education institutions statewide are members of the organization.

This is the second year for the SIS program. In addition to St. Mary’s, the recipients this year are Austin Community College District, Houston Community College System, Huston-Tillotson University, Lone Star College-Kingwood Campus, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas State University-San Marcos, University of North Texas-Dallas and University of Texas at Austin.

“We’re excited to be working with this group of Texas Campus Compact members for another year of inspired service learning projects,” said Patricia Potyka, executive director of Texas Campus Compact. “These nine schools bring amazing energy and committed students to address the needs of communities across the state, and we’re looking forward to everything that we’ll be able to accomplish together.”

Service learning, gaining popularity at college campuses around the nation, is typically set up for college students to gain college credit (and, in some cases, stipends) in exchange for participating in service projects aimed to address critical community needs. More importantly, service learning helps students to look beyond themselves and work with classmates to directly and positively impact and transform their communities.

A number of the service learning projects designed by the SIS member schools in the program’s inaugural year were oriented toward mentoring high school students-in effect, allowing college students in the program to help recruit the next generation of college students while also helping to close the gaps of educational inequity.

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