2015 Impact Conference Review

Posted by on March 20, 2015

By Daisy Villa

Impact ConfAre you looking for a conference that mobilizes college students, nonprofit professionals, and educators to strengthen their communities through service, action, and advocacy? Are you interested in connecting and educating individuals about the impact of service? Well, I have one simple recommendation for you, learning more about the IMPACT Conference.

I had the opportunity to attend this year’s IMPACT Conference in sunny Los Angeles, California. This four day event, hosted by Loyola Marymount University, was filled with over 50 workshops, inspirational lectures, note-worthy guest speakers and over 600 students, administrators, national services participants, and non-profit leaders all coming together for social change.

The IMPACT conference, formerly known as the COOL Conference, has a 30 year history connecting students, administrators, faculty, AmeriCorps members, and nonprofit professionals on the civic engagement of college students. The conference explores community service, service-learning, community-based research, advocacy and other forms of social action. IMPACT participants will find a range of workshops from beginner, intermediate and advanced all surrounding these nine categories:

·         Building and Sustaining a Campus-based Community Service Program

·         Administrators

·         Alternative Break Programs

·         AmeriCorps/National Service/Year of Service program

·         Issues and Advocacy

·         Leadership and Professional Skills/Career Development

·         Life after College/Recent Graduate

·         Service-Learning

·         Spirituality/Faith and Service

Upon my arrival to the beautiful campus, I was welcomed and instructed to download the Guidebook app in order to view the agenda for each day. Although I did hesitate to add more apps on my phone, I quickly realized how convenient it was to have the workshop descriptions, registration links, emergency contacts, info on guest speakers, bus schedules and local attractions at my fingertips. I was even able to receive information in real time from the IMPACT staff if there were any changes to the agenda. This made my experience manageable and convenient.

On the second and third day of my IMPACT conference, I was amazed by the impressive work of two institutions exposing college students towards meaningful service and social impact.

I would like to start off with Tulane University’s engagement with the community. The university’s recent commitment towards service is imbued with the belief that, “public service, rooted in an academic context while growing into other areas of service, contributes to the development of student civic engagement.” After the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the community of New Orleans needed a way to revitalize its town from the ground up.  As a result, in 2006, Tulane recognized the need for its students, faculty and staff to mobilize and help with the revitalization process by implementing a new Public Service Graduation Requirement. This new graduation prerequisite requires all students to be civically engaged in the community by successfully completing a one service-learning course (at the 1000 – 3000 level) no later than the fifth semester of full-time enrollment at Tulane and participating in one of the following Center for Public Service approved programs at the 3000 level or above:

·         Service-learning course

·         Academic service-learning internship

·         Faculty-sponsored public service research project

·         Public service honors thesis project

·         Public service-based international study abroad program.

·         Capstone experience with public service component

As of now, Tulane University has over 450 community partners throughout New Orleans and its students complete an average of 20 to 40 hours of service, (depending on the class) in the semester. The representatives that I had a chance to speak to from the Center for Public Service, acknowledged there were still challenges with the new strategic requirement but the center is willing to keep adjusting until they “develop a long-term place-based, focused community engagement initiative that involves the entire University and its constituents.” To learn more about this program please click here.

Just like Tulane University, the Institute on Philanthropy & Voluntary Service (IPSV) is also exposing determined college students to social and policy impact. IPSV is one of seven LIVE. LEARN. INTERN. Programs sponsored by The Fund for American Studies based in Washington, D.C. This four to eight- week summer program recruits undergraduate students who are committed to community service and interested in exploring careers in the nonprofit sector. Once students are selected, they are given a   comprehensive package which includes a guaranteed internship placement, courses for transferable credit, furnished housing, a variety of guest lectures and briefings, as well as opportunities for professional development and networking. Interns are then placed in the front line with a nonprofit organization working to solve local and national issues surrounding in education, childhood obesity, public health, immigration, homelessness, urban renewal and other pressing issues. On average, students spend 30 hours a week at their nonprofit sites and 5-10 hours a week consumed with class and course work. Though costly [the tuition for this?], this shouldn’t deter students from applying. IPSV also has several scholarships students can apply to in order to fund this experience.  One of IPSV’s own mission is to “combine real-world experience, relevant coursework and networking opportunities” to help leverage student’s experiences into a future internship or full-time job in the field of public service. To learn more please click here.

At the conference, I met several eager college students with the urgent passion to make a difference in their communities.  I left the 2015 IMPACT conference with tools, resources and contacts that will help me create and sustain a better service oriented program at PHENND.

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