Community Engagement News

Mar 27, 2023. 5 min read

Community Engagement News March 27, 2023


Community Engagement Event This Wednesday Includes Presentation of Awards

Community Engagement Showcase and Awards

At the Community Engagement Showcase and Awards this Wednesday, students and faculty members will receive recognition for their recent achievements in community engagement.

The event will also feature podium and poster presentations by students and faculty, emphasizing community engagement for “collective impact.” The presentations will highlight the impact of specific projects on the community as well as on the students themselves.

The previously scheduled Community Engagement Symposium will not be held this year. And the Community Engagement Awards Ceremony has been combined with elements of the symposium.

This will be the 10th year of the Community Engagement Awards. The event was first held in 2014.

Community Engagement Awards
Community Engagement Awards

Last year’s winners of awards for community engagement included undergraduates Amanda Gonzalez Garcia and Joseph Minani, for Community Impact, and Dr. Heidi Whitford (below at left), for Community-Engaged Scholarship. The plaques were presented by Dr. Scott F. Smith, vice president for mission and student engagement; Ms. Nikki Watkins, chair of Barry’s Community Advisory Committee; and Dr. Celeste Landeros, professor and chair of the Faculty Senate.

Community Engagement Awards

In previous years, the Community Engagement Symposium and the Community Engagement Awards were separate events.

The Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI) will host the Community Engagement Showcase and Awards from 11:30 to 1:30 in Room 111 of the Andreas Building. Students, faculty, and staff are asked to register for the event via Corq.

Barry Students Assist with Interfaith Coalition’s Annual Assembly Focused on ‘People Power’

Nehemiah Action Assembly

Virginia Rivas (right) and Mia Hunt assist with attendee registration at the Nehemiah Action assembly hosted by PACT. The most pressing issue raised at the assembly was the lack of tree canopies in some communities. – Photo contributed

Barry students assisted Miami’s interfaith coalition with its annual assembly earlier this month, and they came away with a deep appreciation of what “people power” really means.

Students completing a service-learning module, together with student leaders in the Barry Service Corps, turned up early to greet people attending PACT’s Nehemiah Action. Some students helped with parking, others with registration.

Undergraduate Benny Rubinsztejn was impressed with the work of the coalition and the outcome of the event. “It was an extraordinary event,” he said. “I watched 40 congregations together in one church fighting for [a just] cause.”

PACT (People Acting for Community Together) is a coalition of Miami-Dade congregations that seeks to “build people power for justice.” Its annual Nehemiah Action is a large community assembly during which public officials are urged to “adopt solutions to serious problems.”

At the most recent assembly, people packed the pews at St. James Catholic Church in North Miami to get updates on specific community issues and to demand action from public officials.

The most pressing issue raised at the assembly was the lack of tree canopies in some communities. PACT members called on county leaders to move quickly to protect Miami-Dade’s most vulnerable neighborhoods from an impending killer heat. In particular, they wanted action from Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jose Dotres regarding tree canopies for 15 targeted communities where lower-income residents are exposed to the dangers of extreme heat.

Rev. Willie Allen-Faiella, a PACT leader and former rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, elicited the mayor’s express commitment to developing a budget for the tree canopy project.

“Mayor Levine Cava, will you develop a project budget by May 12, 2023, to reach 30 percent tree canopy across the county by 2030?” Rev. Allen-Faiella asked.

“Yes,” replied the mayor, drawing cheers from PACT members.

“We’re really thrilled that they’ve organized and mobilized around this tree issue because we’re going to need them,” Mayor Levine Cava later said. She added: “Budgets have to pass, communities

Nehemiah Action Assembly

Above: Barry Service Corps Fellows Jocelyn Flores (left) and Virginia Rivas at the registration table as community members gather for PACT’s annual assembly. Below: Some of the 22 students and two staff members from Barry in the pews at St. James Catholic Church in North Miami, where they would see “people power” up close. – Photos contributed

Nehemiah Action Assembly

The assembly also heard responses from the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office about their commitment to reducing arrests by expanding the use of civil citations for certain driving offenses related to unpaid fees and fines.

PACT leaders had reported that numerous adults were arrested for minor offenses like failing to pay a traffic fine or court fee. The coalition had called for the expansion of the county’s Adult Civil Citation program so that more adults could be diverted from the system and avoid a criminal record.

In addition, PACT leaders noted that the implementation of Miami-Dade County’s Community ID program was underway. The program was proposed by PACT a few years ago.

Twenty-two Barry students and two staff members from the Center for Community Service Initiatives attended the assembly on March 13. They saw “people power” up close. And they appreciated what they saw.

For Kady Thermidor it was a “wonderful opportunity” to be among over 200 members of the community “ready to hold our lawmakers accountable.” The student said she appreciated being “a part of something bigger than myself, a part of social justice, a part of people power.”

Community Service Placements Still Available to Students Eligible for Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study Community Service

Community service placements are still available to students eligible for Federal Work-Study (FWS). Students who accept such positions are enrolled in the Barry Service Corps (BSC).

The BSC is a civic engagement initiative that supports students in applying civic and academic learning to real-world problems. While serving the community through nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and local government agencies, members develop interpersonal, teamwork, and other career-related skills.

The CCSI manages FWS Community Service in partnership with the Human Resources and Financial Aid offices. The CCSI’s approach to the program is based on interdivisional and campus–community collaboration and involves the full integration of FWS Community Service into Barry’s strategic plan for community engagement.

For information on FWS Community Service positions, contact Emmanuel Ikpuri, program facilitator for FWS Community Service in the CCSI, via email:

"Building Resiliency in the Face of Climate Change"

Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities Calls for Conference Proposals

The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU)

The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) has called for proposals for its 28th annual conference, which will take place in Washington, D.C., on October 15–18.

The theme of the 2023 CUMU Annual Conference is “Resilient Campuses, Resilient Cities.”
According to CUMU, participants will “critically examine how our campuses and cities embrace shared understandings and a commitment to fostering greater resilience.”

Proposals should be based on at least one of six tracks: anchor collaborations and strategies; racial equity and justice; hyperlocal, place-based community engagement; social and economic mobility; policy and change; and student success and well-being.

Presentation formats include “community conversation,” mini workshop, panel presentation, “research and impact” presentation, poster session, roundtable, and pre-conference workshop. 

The deadline for the submission of proposals is April 7, and the conference organizers are expected to send acceptance notifications by May 15.

Community Engagement News is a publication of the Center for Community Service Initiatives.

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