In celebration of FIU’s upcoming 50th Anniversary in 2015, the university’s renowned Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) will challenge its students, employees, alumni, family and friends to “GIVE 50” – 50 hours of service to the community in recognition of FIU’s 50 years in the community. The massive community engagement project intends to spark a commitment to a life of active citizenship that will promote a long-range, positive effect for Miami-Dade County.
The Center for Leadership and Service provides those critical learning experiences that build the capacity of FIU’s students to lead and serve in their communities. Through leadership education and practical application, students learn how to become active citizens on campus, in their respective communities and in their future careers.
CLS historically has the mechanisms and basic framework to connect students with the Greater Miami community and record their service contributions. CLS recorded over 65,000 hours of community service for 2013-2014. Such successful annual programs are the National Days of Service, civic engagement mini-grants for student-run service projects, service trips during academic breaks with pre and post service projects in Miami, and the Civic Engagement Medallion of Distinction, which recognizes a commitment to service and can be earned by students to wear at commencement.
By partnering with FIU’s division of Human Resources, Alumni Relations, External Relations, Office of Engagement and partners in the Miami community, “GIVE 50” will not only activate a larger effort through FIU’s student enrollment, the nation’s fifth-largest University, but also engage more than 6,000 FIU employees, 125,000 South Florida alumni and countless community supporters.
The sheer size of this group, including FIU’s students, presents an amazing opportunity to bring about an epic level of change in civic engagement and volunteerism within Greater Miami. “GIVE 50” will bring about needed awareness of the value of community engagement by jump-starting a movement of volunteerism – a direct correlation to an area of improvement outlined in the recent Our Miami Report. Research shows that volunteering leads to other forms of civic engagement, so it makes sense to invest in the early stages where we can have huge impact.
“GIVE 50” will span the entire year, beginning with FIU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, in January, and end the following year at the same event. A website dedicated to “GIVE 50” will launch to promote volunteering opportunities, share pictures and stories about volunteering experiences and other necessary details in giving back 50 hours of community service throughout the year. In addition to the anecdotal data collected through the “GIVE 50” website, FIU will also utilize an online volunteer registration system that will document personal or company hours served. A longitudinal study will be incorporated to gauge how individuals continue to serve the community (e.g., continued volunteerism, leading community projects, serving in public office) after pledging to commit 50 hours of service in our challenge.
The Miami Foundation’s Accelerator Grant will provide the opportunity for FIU’s Center for Leadership and Service to stage and manage such a large community-wide operation. FIU will collaborate with community partners to address the larger audience of alumni and employees and to grow the effort in the community. The funds will be used to enhance existing service programs, develop the technology infrastructure needed, host several large scale community service events, and provide recognition for individuals who meet the 50 hours of service challenge.