Portland State University and its community partners celebrated 10 years of honoring civic engagement with more than 100 awards for exemplary projects.
PSU’s Civic Engagement Awards grew out of the University’s long and deep commitment to serving the community, PSU President Wim Wiewel said at the May 19 awards celebration.
“We have a responsibility as an anchor institution to be deeply engaged with this metropolitan area, with its school system, its political system, its businesses, its civic and service organizations,” Wiewel said. “It is only by working in partnership with them that we can help contribute to making this a place that can remain competitive in this very tough and challenging world.”
Guest speakers at the celebration were Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith and Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen. They said PSU’s faculty and students have helped shape educational and social service programs throughout the city and county.
Smith, who is leading the Portland school district in a major redesign of its high schools, said PSU has played an important role in developing the proposed new high school system. The University has provided research, demographics and data analysis that will help make education more equitable in Portland, particularly for students of color, she said.
PSU’s work with the city’s schools also includes developing academic standards for every subject and grade level for the first time, increasing the number of teachers of color and with English as a second language skills, and starting the Learning Gardens program.
“I think this partnership ends up being how we as a city help our young people to thrive,” Smith said.
Cogen highlighted an after-school program called EDG:E (Educate, Dream, Give: Empower) run by PSU students in the Student Leaders for Service program. In the program, ten PSU students work with elementary and high school students to do service projects that address critical issues in the community. As of May, 650 students have completed 96 service learning projects, Cogan said.
“In order for us to make a difference in the community, we need to work together,” Cogen said. “The model that Portland State has established of engaging the community and working with its partners is exactly the model that all of us need to follow.”
An interactive map of PSU's international and local partnerships will soon be online at www.pdx.edu.