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Does service take a summer break? Not at these engaged campuses

When the summer is hot and students head home, faculty and staff might expect a chance to chill out. Instead, on many campuses across the NC Campus Compact network, community engagement doesn’t take a vacation. Colleges and universities support a wide variety of summer service opportunities – from full-time student internships with local nonprofits to special service orientation sessions for incoming first years.

Summer internship programs are a great way for students to gain meaningful experience and for nonprofit partners to staff up for special summer work. UNC-Chapel Hill’s APPLES summer internship program places about 30 students at local non-profits to work full-time for 8 to 10 weeks. Interns can earn one credit through an associated service-learning course administered by the School of Social Work, and they receive a stipend that is co-funded by APPLES and the non-profit partner.

In Queens University of Charlotte’s Summer in Service program, the summer internship experience takes a different form. Started in 2012, the program selects 5 to 10 Queens undergrads each summer to serve as a team.  Over the course of the summer, the students will work with a dozen partner agencies, serving one week (Monday – Thursday) with each organization. For their service, participants receive free on-campus housing over the summer.

Queens student Karla Lozano has chronicled the 2015 team’s work in her Summer in Service blog.

“[The program] serves two purposes,” says Pat Taft, director of the Center for Active Citizenship, the office that manages Summer in Service. “It’s great for the students to find their passion but it also helps to solidify our non-profit partnerships because these are dedicated students, they stay a whole week, they build relationships, and they build Queens’ reputation with the non-profit.”

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UNCG students and staff prepare for a serveGSO summer workday.

UNC Greensboro’s new serveGSO program also helps build and preserve ties with non-profit partners during the summer months. The effort began last fall as a series of one-time service projects. North Carolina Campus Compact VISTA member Kali Hackett, working with UNCG’s Office of Leadership and Service-Learning (OLSL), started the program and continues to coordinate the summer series, which focuses on sustainable food and food security.

“We had so much success with the serveGSO model during the semester,” says Hackett. “When we were talking in March about how to engage students during the summer, we decided to continue the program but focus on food. There is so much farming, people want to get outside, and food insecurity is an issue in Guilford County. We want to show students the issue firsthand.”

The Campus Kitchen program has its focus clearly on food. At Elon University, Campus Kitchen staff and volunteers grow and harvest produce at the university’s on-campus farm, then use the produce to prepare over 200 meals each Tuesday. Most of the meals are delivered and served at the Allied Churches of Alamance County’s lunchtime feeding program.

At Wake Forest University, the Campus Kitchen program is busier than ever this summer, as it continues service to its ongoing partners and adds a new feeding site: a summer camp organized by Girls, Inc. NC Campus Compact VISTA member Natasha Vos credits the Campus Kitchen student interns for handling the increased work load – 30 breakfasts and 30 lunches each day – to feed the campers. This is despite working out of a new location while Campus Kitchen’s usual space in the (serendipitously named) Kitchen Residence Hall is being renovated.

On the food acquisition side of the Campus Kitchen mission, Vos has brokered a new partnership with Farmer Foodshare to purchase low-cost produce left on the stands at local farmers markets. The food can be re-used in Campus Kitchen meals or distributed to other partners.

Many campuses offer special service experiences for incoming first years. Elon University’s Pre-Serve program brings 25 new students to campus in June for a week-long, whirlwind community service tour.

Evan Small, Assistant Director for Student Programs at Elon’s Kernodle Center, directs Pre-Serve but points out the effort is a collaboration between many campus offices, including Greek Life, Residence Life, Campus Rec, and others.

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Elon’s Pre-Serve program lets incoming students learn about the campus and community.

“The program introduces these new students to the university as a whole, to different organizations and communities within Alamance County, and to the multiplicity of options available for them to get involved,” says Small.

New students and transfers can take part in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Service-Learning Initiative, which runs for 3 days before fall classes begin. About 60 new students and 18 student leaders take part in the student-led, staff-supported orientation-style program. Participants move into their dorms early and pay a nominal fee of $60 to cover meals and transportation.

This year, student organizers chose to focus the experience on a unifying theme: “Food for All.” Participants will serve with food-related partner organizations and hear from guest speakers and experts as they learn about the campus and community life. The students take away real knowledge of the issue and partner organizations can accomplish special projects, but APPLES and related campus programs benefit as well.

“It’s kind of a leadership pipeline for us,” says Ryan Nilsen, a program officer at the Carolina Center for Public Service. “We find that about half of APPLES student organizers were part of SLI. So it’s one way that we’re trying to reach students early and bringing them in as potential student leaders.”

Update 7/23/2015:

We also wanted to share these amazing service programs making a difference this summer in North Carolina and beyond. :

UNC Pembroke Summer Community Internship Program – The North Carolina State Employees Credit Union Foundation has agreed to provide 20 student internships for UNC Pembroke students this summer, with a total investment of up to $100,000. Under the program, SECU interns will help local governments, non-profit organizations, businesses and other agencies in this rural community.

Elon Academy – a college access and success program for academically promising high school students in Alamance County with a financial need and/or no family history of college. The Academy includes three consecutive summer residential experiences prior to the sophomore, junior and senior years, as well as year-round Saturday programs for students and families.

The Campus Kitchen at East Carolina University – like Campus Kitchen programs at Elon and Wake Forest, the Campus Kitchen at ECU keeps feeding hungry kids and families over the summer with help from summer student interns and local volunteers.

DukeEngage – provides full funding for select Duke undergraduates who wish to pursue an immersive summer of service in partnership with a U.S. or international community. As of summer 2015, more than 3,000 Duke students have volunteered through DukeEngage in 79 nations on six continents. A former DukeEngage project near and dear to our VISTA program’s heart is the Partnership for Appalachian Girls Education in Madison, NC.

Please send your campus highlights of summer engagement to nccc@elon.edu.

 

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Jonas, Oliphant selected as first Engaged Faculty Scholars

Drs. Annie Jonas (L) and Ashley Oliphant (R) were selected as Engaged Faculty Scholars.

Drs. Annie Jonas (L) and Ashley Oliphant (R) are the first Engaged Faculty Scholars.

Service-learning faculty members are uniquely positioned at the intersection of teaching and community engagement to help colleges and universities realize the values of the engaged campus. These faculty members draw on their disciplinary expertise, their pedagogical acumen, and their interest in the world beyond the classroom to build partnerships and programs that give students access to meaningful community-based learning experiences.

Our two inaugural Engaged Faculty Scholars — Dr. Annie Jonas of Warren Wilson College and Dr. Ashley Oliphant of Pfeiffer University — epitomize this commitment to students’ academic and civic growth.

As Engaged Faculty Scholars, both Jonas and Oliphant will fill a dual role: leading a project to deepen the scholarship of campus-community engagement at their own institution, and serving as a consultant to support faculty development at another campus in the North Carolina Campus Compact network.

NC Campus Compact Executive Director Leslie Garvin conceived the new scholars program as a way to support outstanding faculty and encourage them to share their service-learning expertise.

“Over the years, we’ve learned so much about the great research and partnerships our faculty are engaged in,” Garvin says. “The Compact already supports faculty through our annual PACE Conference and our online, peer-reviewed journal Partnerships, but the Engaged Scholars program provides a new opportunity for faculty members to deepen their engagement and to strengthen our network.”

As chair of the education department at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, Dr. Jonas has incorporated community engagement partnerships with local and regional K-12 schools into all her undergraduate courses. A new project in 2014 included a semester-long learning partnership between her First Year Seminar students and 3rd graders at a local public school. Dr. Jonas Jonas received the Andy Summers Award for Excellence in Service Learning in 2013 and currently serves as the Faculty Liaison to Service-Learning through the Service Program office at Warren Wilson.

For her Engaged Faculty Scholars project at Warren Wilson, Dr. Jonas will examine how the college’s First Year Seminar (FYS) can address concepts of civic identity. She will explore the developmental qualities and needs of first year students in relation to civic identity and then connect this understanding to the community engagement component of FYS courses. This new understanding will assist faculty who teach FYS courses and also support the launch of the college’s new general education program that emphasizes community engagement.

At Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, Associate Professor of English Dr. Ashley Oliphant will also focus on the first year experience. Oliphant will restructure the Introduction to College Writing course (the first in the first-year writing sequence) to include a significant service-learning component requiring real-world writing grounded in sustained direct service. The first-year “Pfeiffer Journey” seminars will provide the space for the service, the Francis Center for Servant Leadership will offer logistical and financial support, and English Department faculty will facilitate the reflections, writing and grading of the program.

Oliphant has been a service-learning practitioner for more than a decade. She has used her first-year writing courses to explore a series of diverse themes, including animal welfare, advocacy and mentoring. For the past six years, Oliphant has also directed the Francis Center for Servant Leadership; and she served as the institutional writer for Pfeiffer’s latest Carnegie reclassification application and the university’s applications to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Jonas and Oliphant were competitively selected from a strong pool of faculty applicants from across the statewide network. In August, the Compact will identify the campuses where the Engaged Scholars will serve as faculty engagement consultants.

The Engaged Faculty Scholars receive a stipend and professional development package valued at $2500, and host institutions are encouraged to provide additional support or course release. In addition to their proposed project and consulting work, the scholars will have opportunities to share their research at the network’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference for faculty and to submit work for publication in the Compact’s online peer-reviewed journal Partnerships.

Learn more about program and about the 2015-2016 Engaged Faculty Scholars.

 

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NC Campus Compact welcomes new VISTA program coordinator

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New VISTA  coordinator Carolyn Byrne.

NC Campus Compact welcomes Carolyn Byrne as our new VISTA Program Coordinator. Byrne brings a bevy of public service and higher education experience to the role. She served two terms as an NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA in UNC’s APPLES Service-Learning Program (2009-2011); worked as a student services specialist at UNC’s Carolina Center for Public Service; and recently completed a Masters in counseling at UNC Greensboro.

Just as she is familiar with AmeriCorps, Byrne is no stranger to Elon University, which hosts the Compact’s state office. An Elon alumna (’09), Byrne got her start in campus-community engagement as an undergraduate leader in the Alternative Breaks and LINCS programs at the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement.

As VISTA program coordinator, Byrne will support a cohort of 18 full-time VISTA volunteers building campus-community partnerships at 13 campus and community sites.

“When this position became available… it felt like coming home to AmeriCorps,” says Byrne. “But also it was a chance to take four years of experience and new skills and understanding of personal and professional development and take that up a notch in working with VISTAs across the state.”

As a VISTA and later staff member at UNC Chapel Hill’s APPLES Service Learning Program and the Carolina Center for Public Service, Byrne helped expand community-based serving learning placements and student internships. Byrne oversaw student leadership teams for alternative breaks and internships, managing more than 150 community partnerships in the process. In May 2013, she was honored with UNC’s Student Undergraduate Staff Award.

In her most recent work at UNC Greensboro, Byrne worked as a graduate assistant and counseling intern at the Students First Office, where she provided academic counseling services and helped coordinate other interventions for struggling students.

Byrne is looking forward to working with VISTA members but also with supervisors and community partners.

“At UNC, my role involved working deeply with community partners and getting to see what they were working toward and supporting their mission with the institution’s resources … it felt like good and meaningful work,” Byrne recalls. “I reflect back on how impactful those relationships were but also how long and how much intention it takes to build them.”

“I’m excited to think about how to make NC Campus Compact an important part of the VISTA experience and a resource for VISTAs and supervisors.”

Chad Fogleman, who has managed the Compact’s VISTA program since 2012, will remain with the organization in the expanded role of assistant director, overseeing communications, network events, awards, and other programs. Learn more about our staff.

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Celebrating 50 years of VISTA

This year AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Often described as a domestic version of the Peace Corps, the VISTA program has engaged thousands of citizens in the fight against poverty since the first volunteers began service in 1965. To honor the occasion, VISTAs past and present gathered in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 20th for a day of service, reflection, and fellowship.

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Poet and teacher Joseph Bathanti served as a VISTA in Charlotte from 1976-77.

Over 60 people came to the Lifespan Creative Campus for the celebration. Lifespan is a nonprofit organization that provides education, employment, and enrichment opportunities to empower children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live, work and play in their communities.

VISTA alumni and members whose service spanned the 1960s to the present day worked  together at the Creative Campus. The campus includes a garden, walking paths, and gazebo for Lifespan clients to enjoy. Participants in the service painted garden picnic tables, weeded the walkway, and cleaned the gazebo area.

The service project was followed by a luncheon and remarks from VISTAs past and present. The keynote speaker, Joseph Bathanti, served as VISTA in Charlotte, NC from 1976-1977. Bathanti worked with prison inmates, teaching writing, developing relationships, and ensuring that prisoners would be successful after their release.

Mr. Bathanti’s experience as a VISTA heavily influenced his personal and creative life. He met his wife Joan, a fellow VISTA, working the same project, and joked that he likes “to tell people I met my wife in prison.” A Pittsburgh native, Bathanti went on to become North Carolina Poet Laureate; he now teaches creative writing at Appalachian State University. Mr. Bathathi read poems from a collection titled “Concertina,” a reference to the swirling wire that tops prison fences. His reflections on service reminded us why VISTA is such powerful and transformative experience.

Mr. Bathanti’s remarks were followed by VISTA alumnus K’aia Clarke who served with MDC in Durham from 2012-2014 and current VISTA member Leah Parks who serves at the Lifespan Creative Campus. Together the speakers made a strong case for the value of national service, not just for its cost-effective impact in communities but also for the opportunity these assignments provide to the individuals who accept them. Nationwide coalitions like Service Nation and the Franklin Project are working to preserve AmeriCorps VISTA and other service programs in the face of recent efforts to reduce or eliminate these programs.

Among the VISTA projects participating in the event were current and former members and staff from NC Campus Compact, Peacehaven Farm, Welfare Reform Liaison Project, Fayetteville State University’s Office of College Access, and the Collaborative.

The day was organized by the NC state office of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Post authored by NC Campus Compact VISTA Leader Catherine Casteel, photos by VISTA Leader Perdita Das

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WCU’s Perry honored with American Democracy Project’s Saltmarsh Award

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Perry was recognized by NC Campus Compact in spring 2015.

Dr. Lane Perry, director of service-learning at Western Carolina University, has received the 2015 John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement during AASCU’s American Democracy Project annual meeting in New Orleans. The Saltmarsh Award is presented to an emerging leader in the civic engagement field from an AASCU institution or ADP Partner. Perry joins fellow North Carolinian Dr. Emily Janke, director of the Institute for Community and Economic Engagement (ICEE) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who received the Saltmarsh Award in 2012. Western Carolina and UNCG are both members of North Carolina Campus Compact.

This national recognition for Perry follows his receipt earlier this spring of the NC Campus Compact 2015 Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes a staff person in the network who has worked towards the institutionalization of service, created and strived towards a vision of service on their campus, supported faculty and students, and formed innovative campus-community partnerships. Perry was honored in the Emerging Leaders category.

The American Democracy Project (ADP), an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), honored Perry and three other leaders in civic engagement during the 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting in New Orleans. Three ADP awards were presented: The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement; The William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement; and The John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement.

“We’re thrilled to honor these outstanding individuals whose work represents the richness of civic learning and democratic engagement taking place on our campuses and in our communities,” says Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, director of AASCU’s American Democracy Project. “The 2015 civic engagement award recipients’ work reflects the efforts needed to ensure that we in higher education are preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy.”

Patrick Dolenc, a professor of economics at Keene State College (N.H.), received the Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement. Michael Vaughan, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Weber State University (Utah), was honored as recipient of the William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement.

Perry was one of two winners of the Saltmarsh Emerging Leaders Award, joining Adam Bush, the chief academic officer of College Unbound.

“Both recipients are engaged in path-breaking civic engagement work that advances the deeply democratic purposes of higher education. We want to encourage more emerging leaders with their example,” says John Saltmarsh. The award was created in honor of John Saltmarsh, co-director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston, as a tribute to his dedication to nurturing the next generation of civic leaders.

 

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What students leave behind, others put to good use

Move-out and graduation are hectic times as students scramble to finish exams, clean out dorm rooms, and pack for home, travel, or summer jobs. On some campuses, this haste does not make waste, because students and staff organize programs to collect and donate cast-off items.

Appalachian State University’s massive Don’t Throw It Away campaign began in 2001 to reduce waste produced by students during move out week and to raise awareness about sustainability. Starting on reading day, teams of student volunteers organize a week of collection events, visiting collection points in lobbies of campus residence halls and manning drop-off points across campus. This year, more than 230 volunteers gave more than 1000 hours to the effort, which ran from May 2 – May 9. The 2015 haul is still being tallied, but in each of the past two years, Don’t Throw It Away has yielded more than 70 tons of donated material.

What happens to all that stuff? At Appalachian State, the items are sorted and stored all summer in the university’s on-campus nightclub, Legends.

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Over 230 volunteers collected donated items for Appalachian State’s “Don’t Throw it Away” campaign this year.

“This is such an amazing event,” says Thomas Evans, Assistant Director of Community Service, who oversees the project at the ACT Office. The ACT Office works with University Housing, the Office of Sustainability, and other units to pull off the annual event.  “You can really see the impact as the space in Legends starts to fill up!”

While students return in the fall, the items are sold at the Big Sale.” Since 2001, the sale has generated more than $100,000 in funding to support the university’s local non-profit partners. Since 2007, these funds are granted to selected partners to support energy efficiency upgrades, further highlighting sustainability issues.

According to Evans, community agencies value the chance to invest in energy efficiency, which frees up funds for human services that would otherwise go to overhead. For example, some of the proceeds from the upcoming Big Sale will support the local Habitat Restore. The non-profit will use Big Sale funds to install efficient lighting in its three local warehouses. Evans says the Restore estimates these improvements could save more than $700/month in energy costs.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, the “Tarheel Treasure” event lets students donate re-usable and recyclable items. According to UNC officials cited in a recent news report, the program has diverted more than 200 tons of material from landfills since it began in 2009.

Since 2009, Elon University has run its Don’t Trash It program during move-out week. In residence halls and at Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity collection trucks parked on campus, students can donate home goods, clothing, electronics, and non-perishable food. In 2014, Don’t Trash It! efforts resulted in 10,060 pounds of goods to Goodwill, 6 truckloads of furniture to Habitat for Humanity, 1,486 lbs. of food to Allied Churches and about 430 lbs. of bedding to First Presbyterian Church.

UNC Greensboro sells the items collected from students during move-out week at its annual Cram and Scram Yard Sale.” A recent news article explains how the program is intended to divert usable items and materials that would otherwise go straight to the landfill. Because every item is sold for 50 cents, crowds line up early to wait for the Elliot University Center doors to open. Any unsold items are donated to local non-profits.

For those seeking tips on organizing a similar move-out donation drive, check out “Give and Go! Planning a College Move-Out Donation Drive Technical Guide” released by Keep America Beautiful in February 2015. UNC Chapel-Hill Housing Facilities Manager and Tarheel Treasure program director Deborah Bousquet contributed to the document.

UPDATE on 6/15/15: More news of campus donation efforts. Goodwill of Northwest North Carolina received nearly 30 tons of donated items from 12 colleges, universities, and boarding schools that took part in the “Ditch ‘n Dash” program! Participating schools included four campuses in our network: Wake Forest University, Western Carolina University, UNC Asheville, and Lenoir-Rhyne University. Wake Forest University alone collected just over 10 tons of donations. Read the Goodwill NWNC press release.

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National Campus Compact sets new course for network

CC30th_croppedNorth Carolina Campus Compact is one of 34 state and regional affiliates of national Campus Compact. Founded in 1985 by the presidents of Brown, Georgetown and Stanford Universities and the president of the Education Commission of the States, our national coalition has grown to include nearly 1,100 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. In 2014, Dr. Andrew Seligsohn took over as president of the national network, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Since then Campus Compact has moved to implement a new strategic plan, improve public communication, and update a keystone document in the run-up to a 30th anniversary event in 2016.

The Compact’s new strategic plan reaffirms our mission and calls on us to build upon our strong foundation of work to expand and deepen our efforts and impact both locally and nationally. The plan provides a roadmap to catalyze collaboration, develop the field and its leaders, and leverage resources to further advance civic engagement in higher education. Over the next five years, our network will focus efforts to:

  • Establish meaningful, reciprocal community partnerships – support and highlight strong, sustainable, democratic partnerships between higher education and community organizations for positive impact on society
  • Improve college access and retention – demonstrate that civic engagement is a vehicle for positively impacting an individual ability to access and achieve post secondary education
  • Enhance college readiness in K to 12 education – improve and strengthen young people’s ability to have successful college careers
  • Better prepare college students for their careers and for society – educate the next generation of citizens to be active and responsible participants in our democracy

Dr. Seligsohn and the national team have also been working to improve public communication. This spring, national unveiled an updated logo and website, www.compact.org. In his new blog, Public Purpose, Seligsohn reflects on the role of Campus Compact and wrestles with the issues of the day in higher education. For example, in one recent post, Dr. Seligsohn considers what we know about the “nuts and bolts” of university : community partnerships, citing an article in the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement by UNC Charlotte researchers Morrell, Sorensen, and Howarth. The authors describe employing graduate students to support action research partnerships in Charlotte communities.

In addition to making new plans and raising new voices, national Campus Compact is engaging institutional leaders to affirm and extend one of the organization’s founding documents, the original Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education. This spring, state affiliates — including NC Campus Compact — began working with member presidents and chancellors to outline  “action commitments” that build on the promise of the Presidents’ Declaration. This new statement will be affirmed by the leaders of member institutions at a summit of chancellors and presidents celebrating Campus Compact’s thirtieth anniversary in March of 2016. As part of its summit planning, the national office has issued a Call for Proposals.

A number of ongoing projects supported by the national office are worth noting. A new report – Three Decades of Institutionalizing Change – shares the results of the 2014 survey of Campus Compact member institutions. (In an upcoming NC Campus Compact news post, we’ll break down the North Carolina results and compare with national responses.) National is accepting nominations for the 2015 Thomas Erlich Faculty Award for Service through May 22.  And a nationally-supported program, “Connect 2 Complete,” designed to increase retention of at-risk community college students through peer mentoring and community engagement, was spotlighted last month in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Executive Director Leslie Garvin is excited about these new directions. “With the strong leadership of the national staff and Board, Campus Compact is poised and ready to reclaim our position as the premiere national organization promoting the public purposes of higher education,” says Garvin. “I think our statewide Compact is already strong, but given the critical challenges so many communities face, we can continue to benefit from innovation and leadership from national.”

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