CSUN Awarded Campus Compact Grant to Bridge Divides on Campus and in Community

The CSUN team that won recognition from Campus Compact for their effort to bridge divisions among people. From left, Jennifer Skornik, Doug Kaback, David Boyns, Jeanine Mingé and Briauna Johnson. Photo by Lee Choo.

Campus Compact — a Boston-based coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, committed to the purpose of higher education — has awarded California State University, Northridge a $5,000 grant from its Fund for Positive Engagement, to catalyze experiments that bridge divisions among people and groups, both on campus and within the community.

CSUN was selected through a highly competitive process, out of nearly 300 applicants from public, private, two-year and four-year Campus Compact members. Proposals were judged based on the strength of the idea, its practicality and the degree to which it will be possible to measure success, among other criteria.

The grant, awarded to CSUN’s Office of Community Engagement and the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing, is one of 40 awarded to public institutions across the country. The funds will be used in support of the Institute’s project, “Stories that Connect Us: Resilience and Hope among Students of Opportunity,” which is designed to engage participants with unfamiliar perspectives. It’s also designed to foster empathy and understanding, and to develop positive relationships across differences to lift up common humanity.

“The purpose of our project is to create a forum where CSUN students can share their stories of hope and resilience, and generate dialogue on social justice issues, all without sidestepping the often challenging realities they face,” said David Boyns, director of the Institute.

The project will utilize Photovoice — a London based community engagement organization that uses photography for positive social change — by documenting photos taken by 30 to 50 CSUN students that represent four themes: 1) What does resiliency mean to you? 2) Tell a story about a time when you were resilient. 3) What does hope mean to you? 4) Tell a story when hope influenced choices you made.

The Photovoice images will be displayed at galleries, community centers and online. The photos will help to tell the stories of the projects participants while encouraging student action, according to Jeanine Mingé, director of CSUN’s Community Engagement.

“Telling stories creates social change. Stories humanize. Stories catalyze. Stories can help people rise. The Campus Compact Positive Engagement Grant has given us the opportunity to guide CSUN’s Bridge to the Future Students through the incredible process of storytelling and art making in order to empower, uplift and connect,” Mingé said.

The Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing is a collaborative of campus and community members committed to enhancing the health and well-being of individuals, families, organizations and communities within CSUN’s service region. The primary mission of the institute is to foster healthful living through community and campus partnerships.  For more information, visit http://www.csun.edu/wellbeing.

The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) at CSUN develops civic responsibility, integrates meaningful community service into our academic experiences, and sustains partnerships with our surrounding communities. OCE enriches scholarship; research and creative activity; enhances curriculum; prepares educated, engaged citizens; strengthens democratic values and civic responsibility; addresses critical social issues and contributes to the public good. For more information, visit: https://www.csun.edu/undergraduate-studies/community-engagement.

The Fund for Positive Engagement is a direct response by Campus Compact to the divisive and destructive climate that took shape in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign. The purpose of the award is to bring people together across lines of difference.

Campus Compact is a leader in building community engagement into campus and academic life. For more information and a full list of recipients, visit http://www.compact.org/fund-positive-engagement.

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