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In recognition of its in-depth involvement within the community, the University of South Carolina Upstate has received the South Carolina Engaged Community Partner Award from South Carolina Campus Compact (SCCC).

For the past two years, through a grant-funded program entitled “Young Meets Old,” USC Upstate has partnered with Christmas in Action Spartanburg (CIA) to provide students with an opportunity to learn new skills through training at Lowe’s, then use those skills in home repair or rebuild projects for the elderly, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged homeowners in the Spartanburg community.

“Giving back to the community helps foster a sense of connectedness to the Spartanburg and USC Upstate communities,” said Kara Ferguson, assistant director of campus programs. “In addition, students participating in the service work have the opportunity to learn important repair skills and about the history of Spartanburg through interactions with the homeowners.”

This level of student learning and engagement with the community also led to another collaboration between CIA and USC Upstate as they joined together to host a Break Away Alternative Break Conference in Spartanburg where more than 60 students from across the United States learned how to plan such alternative breaks and make time to also repair homes in the community.

“For USC Upstate, this kind of recognition shows that we are growing our partnerships with local agencies to create reciprocal relationships in which the agency, their constituents and Upstate students are all gaining something from the experience,” noted Ferguson. “It is my hope that through the partnership we have established with CIA, USC Upstate can develop other partnerships with local agencies to help provide consistent and needed assistance throughout the year to make a lasting impact on the Spartanburg community.”

In addition to the Engaged Community Partner Award, USC Upstate also received recognition in three other award categories.

Junior Christopher Johnson received Honorable Mention for the South Carolina Student Service Achievement Award. Dr. Kathleen Brady, director of the Metropolitan Studies Institute, received Honorable Mention for the South Carolina Faculty Award for Service Learning. Senior Director of Community Engagement Susan Hodge Irwin received Honorable Mention for the South Carolina Civic Engagement Professional Award.

These award recipients will be recognized on April 8 during an awards ceremony and luncheon at the 2013 SCCC Civic Engagement Leadership Summit held at Columbia College in Columbia.

South Carolina Campus Compact is a coalition of 17 South Carolina colleges and universities working to promote and develop the civic purposes of higher education. Its mission is to provide, promote, evaluate, and sustain civic-engagement, service-learning, and community service initiatives that provide South Carolina college students with the skills they need to be active, engaged citizens in their local communities, the state, the nation and the world.

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