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Philanthropic Education at the University of Bridgeport

By Vanessa Nason

At the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, students don't spend all of their time in the classroom - they can be found throughout the community, too.

The University strives to have its students both excel academically and give back to its community, becoming active members in the surrounding area.

"The spirit of involvement and philanthropy is very important on the University of Bridgeport campus," says Dr. Neil Salonen, President of the University. "For example," he says, "the University of Bridgeport held its 11th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 19, 2015, offering ten projects for the more than 550 volunteers, who were eager to help out both on campus and throughout the City of Bridgeport."

These projects covered a wide breadth of tasks, including street clean-ups; community discussions on race, on social justice issues, and on creating a better city; helping out at a daycare; and their largest project, Feeding Children Everywhere. With this effort, 300 volunteers packaged 40,000 meal kits that were delivered to food banks across Connecticut.

Sending students out into the community is a central part of life at University of Bridgeport, and offices on campus help students find volunteering projects that suit them. "The UB office of Campus Activities and Civic Engagement serves as a catalyst for students to connect with, build, and sustain meaningful service initiatives in the greater Bridgeport area," says Salonen.

While the local community benefits from students volunteering at places like the YMCA and the Mercy Learning Center, the University doesn't end its scope there, as students are also engaged globally. "UB's Service Learning initiative creates active global leaders through our Peace Corps Prep Program, AmeriCorps VISTA Community Service program, Build On, and Alternative Spring Break," says Salonen. It's clear that all of these programs build leadership skills in students and benefit the world around all of us.

Their community outreach seems also includes "sports clinics hosted by student athletes, a partnership between our engineering program and Bridgeport's Discovery Museum, and the free or discounted services offered to community members through our Health Sciences programs," says Salonen. Recently, UB students raised over $7,700 for the victims of May's devastating earthquake in Nepal.

It's no surprise, then, that the community in turn supports the students. The University has strong support from the Bridgeport Public School system, which allows education majors to student teach at their schools. The Bridgeport Regional Business Council is another large supporter, and through it local business owners participate in UB's Innovator lecture series.

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About The Author

Vanessa Nason is a fourth year journalism major at Northeastern University. She's...

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