VIDEO: Partnership wins $10,000 Carter award
Posted on June 19, 2009
The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration is given bi-annually by Michigan Campus Compact to one partnership involving a Michigan college or university and a community group with the $10,000 prize divided equally between the campus and community partners for working together in exceptional ways to improve people's lives and enhance learning in the process. It is Michigan Campus Compact's most prestigious award.
The Grand Valley State University School of Engineering and Westown Jubilee Housing partnership centers on energy efficient housing for low-income families living in the west side of Grand Rapids. This partnership, in existence since 2001, is a collaboration in which Westown Jubilee provides a supply of housing projects with energy management needs and challenges and the
Even though engineers frequently deal with cold, hard numbers, Professor Shirley Fleischmann spends a lot of time teaching her students that their work shouldn't be cold-hearted. "This award proves that engineering can do really nice community service work," she said.
One of the collaboration's greatest achievements was the construction of the LEED certified Green House on
"The students are doing some work on the house, but they also have been acting as advisers to the Westown Jubilee Housing board and volunteers to try to make that house as energy efficient as possible," Fleischmann said. "And we've been doing it with very limited funds, so walking away with $10,000 is really helpful. In today's housing economy it is difficult for Westown to do this kind of work and it does force us to make very careful decisions. The student team did a great job of helping Westown prioritize where money should be spent first."
The award money will help install solar hot water and insulation wrap on the house, Fleischmann said. "We really wanted to have solar hot water, the award makes that a possibilit. We would set up a way to study how effective that is," she added.
Some engineering classes — such as heat transfer courses — lend themselves naturally to working on homes for project work. "I've been using these as course projects. It's worked out very well," Fleischmann said. "As we gather the data, we make it available, and I have such wonderful venues to make sure the information reaches the audience that needs to have it — the general public."
Faculty and students are able to monitor the energy use at the project homes, and in the process have compiled valuable data on how to make homes perform better without spending a lot of money — information that is important to the entire community.
"Because of the Green House project, I have made great connections with the U.S. Green Building Council and local contractors," Fleischmann said. "I'm getting asked to talk to real estate agents, I'm being invited to neighborhood associations. People are really being able to benefit from what we have leaned by working on houses on the west side. This is exactly how a university with an urban campus should interact with the neighborhood around the campus — using our expertise to enhance the quality of life of the people who already live there and investing time and energy to build relationships and also value into our neighborhood."
The partnership between GVSU and Westown Jubilee Housing was among three finalists vying for this award. A selection panel composed of representatives from community, higher education, business, and government organizations selected the four finalists and the winner. The committee is independent of Michigan Campus Compact, the organizers of the award. The committee made its selection of the three finalists based on the combined merits of each program and gave careful consideration to how closely the program applicants matched the award guidelines. The award guidelines consisted of the following:
-- Collaboration between a
-- A history of shared power and decision-making;
-- Impact on the lives of families and communities through increased economic opportunity, resourceful social and civic networks, or responsive public systems;
-- Data-informed planning and decision-making;
-- An optimal blend of learning, research, and/or service for higher education participants;
-- Efforts to enlist other collaborators (e.g. businesses, civic organizations, government agencies, faith-based institutions, etc.;
-- Affiliated with
-- Documentation of measurable outcomes;
-- Promise of sustainability.
Michigan Campus Compact (MCC) is a coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. It promotes the education and commitment of
The Governor's Service Awards is an annual celebration hosted by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and First Gentleman Daniel G. Mulhern to acknowledge and pay tribute to individuals, businesses and organizations for their commitment to serving their communities through volunteerism. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mcsc.