Averett University among Top Three in Nation to Compete for Funding in Service Year Challenge

Posted on April 8th, 2016 by Cassie Jones

Averett University will compete against two other colleges next week in the Service Year + Higher Education: Innovation Challenge in Washington, D.C. One of three in the Private Institution category, Averett will pitch their ideas on Tuesday, Apr. 12 in front of a panel of four distinguished judges to compete for a $30,000 Private Institution-category prize and a $10,000 Audience Choice Award.

Averett proposes to create a Service Year for Averett Leaders in Action (ALA) to connect students with youth in the City of Danville. During this nine-month experience, students will work with the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which provides federally subsidized housing and housing assistance to low-income families, for 20 hours per week. ALA students will enroll in courses specific to leadership in action, where they can apply theory to their real-life settings. Integrated, academic coursework including the ALA internship will culminate in a minor in Leadership Studies.

“For all of the wonderful things happening in our city, we also face a number of challenges as well, including a high child poverty rate and a low rate of college attainment,” said Alexis Ehrhardt, executive director for the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) at Averett University. “We want to be a piece of the solution by providing positive role models for the youth in our city, while developing our students into active citizens.”

Joining Ehrhardt will be Rachel Covington, assistant director of community engagement, and Tia Yancey, administrative assistant, who also serves the city as a member of the DRHA Board of Commissioners. The team will compete against Austin College and Drexel University in the private category. The competition will also include a Public Institution category.

“Averett’s goal as a university is to prepare its students to be catalysts for positive change, and a major component of being a strong hometown University is our commitment to community engagement,” said Tiffany M. Franks, president of Averett University. “We here at Averett couldn’t be more proud of our close connections to the surrounding communities we serve and our partnerships with local government and non-profit organizations.”

The Service Year + Higher Education: Innovation Challenge was designed to develop new programs for translating service years into course credit, helping students identify their passions and increasing college completion rates. The Service Year Alliance believes that the incorporation of service years into the post-secondary experience will better prepare students to complete their degrees, attain employment and become lifelong engaged citizens.