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BCSL Newsletter Spring 2011

BCSL Newsletter Spring 2011

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Published by: okeith137 on May 18, 2011
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Seeds of Service Newsletter Spring 2011www.oberlin.edu/bcsl  Oberlin College Bonner Center for Service & Learning page 1bcsl@oberlin.edu 
Oberlin College Bonner Center For Service & Learning, Spring 2011 Newsletter 
Introductionby Beth Blissman, Bonner CSL Director Come Visit Us!
The Bonner Center for Service and Learning is located in Daub Houseat 145 West Lorain Street. It’s situated south of the Science Center,north of Mudd Library, and just west of Wilder Hall.Office Hours:Mon-Fri: 9am - 5pmGreetings of spring!
I thank you for taking the time to read our Seeds of Servicenewsletter, and invite you to explore ways that you can connect withour local community through the Bonner Center for Service andLearning. This semester has been full of great achievements andfantastic community service events! I would like to congratulate therecipients of this year’s Bonner CSL awards (see below), all of whodedicated their time and efforts to enhancing the College andcommunity with their own special talents. 
In this issue you will learn about the great work completed byOberlin College’s new student organization, Oberlin Storm Water Management Project (OSWAMP), and also about Oberlin College’snew commitment to the President’s Interfaith and Community ServiceCampus Challenge. We are all celebrating Oberlin’s selection for theCarnegie Foundation’s 2010 Community Engagement Classification, plus we are impressed with theamount of money saved by Ohio Benefit Bank through their free tax filing services to low andmoderate-income Ohioans in Lorain County. You will read about how dedicated Oberlin students areto the global community in their fundraising work for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. As youcan see, it has been a busy and productive semester. We invite you to become involved in any of these efforts, and we look forward to seeing you at the Daub House in the fall!For more information please contact:145 West Lorain StreetOberlin, OH 44074Phone: 440.775.8055Fax: 440.775.8754www.oberlin.edu/bcslCommunity-Based Learning Practitioner: Janet FiskioCommunity-Based Learning Advocate: Joyce BabyakCommunity-Based Learning Engaged Department:Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist StudiesSpirit of the BCSL: Booker PeekCharles J Ping Award: Erin Swenson-Klatt, OC ‘13Community Partner of the Year: Oberlin City SchoolsOutstanding Alumni: James Peake, OC ‘06
Bonner CSL Director, BethBlissman
Original Creative Contribution: Food Week SteeringCommitteeOutstanding Student Athlete: Syrea Thomas OC ‘11Bright Light: Corey Patrick Harkins OC ‘13Civic Engagement Entrepreneur: Green EDGE FundCommunity Service Work-Study Program: JulieChristensen OC ‘13Education Outreach: Oberlin Young Educators
Seeds of Service Newsletter Spring 2011www.oberlin.edu/bcsl  Oberlin College Bonner Center for Service & Learning page 2bcsl@oberlin.edu 
made evident by our highly motivated studentsand faculty who demonstrate their commitment topublic service and seek opportunities to bethoughtful, concerned leaders, both locally andglobally.”
One example of Oberlin’s localengagement is a collaboration to assist individualsand families through the Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB),a program designed to increase access togovernment benefits and free tax assistance. In2009, Oberlin College partnered with the SecondHarvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio to hostan AmeriCorps VISTA member as a communitytrainer for the OBB, engaging students, alumniand community members as volunteer counselorsat Oberlin Community Services. During 2009-10,the AmeriCorps VISTA member and student andalumni volunteers completed 72 benefitsapplications and assisted 54 clients in completingtheir tax returns and filings, generating more than$76,500 in refunds at three free tax clinics.
This year, 115 institutions – out of 305-earned classification as community engagedinstitutions. In order to be classified as such,institutions had to provide descriptions andexamples of community engagement that showedalignment among mission, culture, leadership,resources, and practices.
“Through a classification thatacknowledges significant commitment to anddemonstration of community engagement, theCarnegie Foundation encourages colleges anduniversities to become more deeply engaged, toimprove teaching and learning, and to generatesocially responsive knowledge to benefitcommunities,” said Carnegie President AnthonyBryk. “We are very pleased with the movementwe are seeing in this direction.”
The Carnegie Foundation for theAdvancement of Teaching has selected OberlinCollege for its 2010 Community EngagementClassification. Only 311 U.S. colleges anduniversities have achieved the classification since itwas initiated in 2006, and Oberlin is one of only27 baccalaureate colleges nationally to beawarded the classification.
The Carnegie Foundation for theAdvancement of Teaching was founded by AndrewCarnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an Actof Congress. The Carnegie Foundation for theAdvancement of Teaching is an independent policyand research center whose mission is to supporttransformations in American education throughconnections between teaching practices, evidenceof student learning, communication and use of thisevidence, and structured opportunities to build thisknowledge.
Carnegie Classifications
comprise a leadingframework for describing institutional diversity inU.S. higher education. The Community EngagementClassification is an elective classification for whichinstitutions may voluntarily apply to be listed.Carnegie defines Community Engagement as
thecollaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local,regional/state, national, global) for the mutuallybeneficial exchange of knowledge and resources ina context of partnership and reciprocity.
“The Carnegie Classification in CommunityEngagement is one of the highest forms of recognition possible in our field,” said BethBlissman, director of Oberlin’s Bonner Center for Service and Learning. “This is a significantaffirmation of the fine work that our students,faculty members, staff, and community partnersundertake on a daily basis. In addition to our 13existing programs, we continue to work withnonprofit organizations to grow even moreopportunities for engagement.”
“The Carnegie Foundation’s recognition isa testament to Oberlin’s legacy of social justice,”said Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov.“Oberlin’s commitment to civic engagement is
Oberlin College receives Carnegie Community Engagement Classificationby Walta Yoseph, OC ’12
For further reading visit:Oberlin College’s press release
The Carnegie Foundation:http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/
Seeds of Service Newsletter Spring 2011www.oberlin.edu/bcsl  Oberlin College Bonner Center for Service & Learning page 3bcsl@oberlin.edu 
Big Fun With Taxes!
by Ondrea Keith, Bonner CSL Americorps VISTA, OC ’10
Even though I’ve graduated from OberlinCollege and now work for the Bonner Center for Service and Learning (BCSL), I still had a Winter Term project: filling out federal, state, and localschool district tax returns for free for local LorainCounty residents.
Everybody groans in sympathywhen I say my job is taxes, but it’s not as tediousor mathematical as common knowledge wouldimply.
Taxes are fun, especially when I can usethem as a tool to put money in the pockets of Lorain County residents.
This year, taxes were bigfun when I helped bring back over $160,000 toLorain County in the form of tax refunds.
My job as a full-time Americorps*VISTA atthe BCSL is to work as a community trainer for theOhio Benefit Bank (OBB), an Internet-basedprogram that connects
low and moderate-incomeOhioans with access to tax filing assistance andwork supports, such as food assistance and theHome Energy Assistance Program. The OBB is ajoint collaboration between the Ohio Associationof Second Harvest Foodbanks and the Governor’sOffice of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.My focus as an OBB community trainer is Oberlinand southern Lorain County.
I work very closelywith Oberlin Community Services to reach out tocommunity members who might find the OBBservices useful.
I do take all the appointmentsmyself; I am lucky to work with a core group of 8extraordinary OBB student and communitymember volunteers who have participated in a six-hour training to learn how to use the Ohio BenefitBank software fill out tax and benefits forms.
This is the second year of the OBB projectat the BCSL.
Claudine Brenner (OC ’09) startedthe project and did an amazing job---for the 2010tax season she and her volunteers filed 64federal, state, and local school district returns tobring back over $76,000 in tax returns to LorainCounty.
This year, people remembered what shedid for them, spread the word, and came back indroves.
Over the course of 4 all-day tax clinicsand a few walk-in appointments, the 2011 OberlinOBB volunteers filed 87 tax returns that broughtback $161,760 to Lorain County residents.
And a big service to the community.
Thatmoney paid bills, bought playground equipment,furnished homes with new furniture, and paddedsavings accounts; even when a client owed taxes,at least they did not have to pay a hefty fee to atax preparation service to learn how much wasowed.
But what I will remember most is thepeople behind the tax returns.
I heard many lifestories; you learn a lot about someone in a shorttime when they trust you enough to handlesensitive financial information.
As I write this tax season officially ends inthree days, but I am already looking ahead tonext year.
My replacement needs to be recruited,timelines of how to host a tax clinic need to made,and volunteers need to be recruited and trained.Because next year?
Next year is going to be evenbigger fun.If you would like to get involved, emailokeith@oberlin.edu or bcsl@oberlin.eduto learn about new training opportunitiesand look for the ExCo course in the 2011fall semester called Poverty: TakingAction.
Winter Term opportunities arealso available.

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