Faith-based Service: FWS at Azusa Pacific University

The Center for Academic Service Learning and Research at Azusa Pacific University (APU) employs FWS students as tutors and service learning program coordinators. The Center makes every effort to place students in positions that correlate with their academic field of study. A significant factor motivating the administration to support community-based FWS positions is the historical commitment of APU, an evangelical Christian institution, to provide opportunities for students to “live a life of service to others.”

Azusa Pacific University

Kristin Gurrola, M.Ed.
Associate Director
Center for Academic Service Learning and Research

Since the fall of 2000, the Center for Academic Service Learning and Research at Azusa Pacific University has offered Federal Work-Study (FWS) students the opportunity to work in a variety of community-based positions. One factor motivating the administration to provide funding was to ensure that the 7% federal requirement would be met or exceeded each year.

A more significant factor motivating the administration to support community-based FWS positions is the historical commitment of APU, an evangelical Christian institution, to provide opportunities for students to live a life of service to others. The four Cornerstones of APU — Christ, Scholarship, Community and Service, — provide the foundation for many educational programs and student experiences offering services to the local community through community-based FWS. Not only have these programs become extremely important to the community, but they also provide opportunities for students to find congruence between their actions and a Biblical mandate to serve.

Community Service FWS Programs at APU

The Center for Academic Service Learning and Research at Azusa Pacific University employs FWS students as tutors and service- learning program coordinators. The Center makes every effort to place students in positions that correlate with their academic field of study.

The two major community programs supported by FWS funds are Azusa Reads and Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID). Azusa Reads, the university’s longest running community-based FWS program, was developed in collaboration with the local public library and school district. APU students are hired to work as tutors providing one-on-one reading assistance to elementary school children. The program employs between 15Ð20 tutors providing service to approximately 250 children each semester.

AVID grew out of a school district need to tutors for an in-school academic support program for grades 7-12 that prepares students for college eligibility and success. Both of these programs are highly valued by the university and have offered students great opportunities to serve the local community through FWS funds.

In addition to Azusa Reads and AVID, a number of other paid student positions qualify as community-based FWS. Under the direction of the Center for Academic Service Learning and Research, undergraduate students can work with the community as Service Learning Advocates (SLAs). An SLA provides support to faculty, students and community partners in facilitating high quality service-learning experiences. Responsibilities include assisting in the design and integration of service learning in the course curriculum, providing faculty and students with a pre-service orientation, partnering with community agencies and local public and private schools for student placements, leading mid-semester reflection activities, and completing final program evaluations.

University Support

There has been tremendous support for these programs by the university administration, as well as the offices of Student Financial Services (SFS) and Student Employment. Both of these departments play a crucial role in the successful facilitation of community-based FWS positions. The SFS department requested and secured funding for the programs through a competitive budget process. Recently, a proposal was submitted for additional funding of the current programs as well as funding to pursue development of a FWS-funded math tutoring program.

The relationship with the Student Employment department is extremely important. Student Employment personnel are committed to providing quality employment opportunities for FWS-eligible students. During the recruitment and hiring process, Student Employment is in constant contact with Service Learning staff, providing recommendations for FWS students who appear to be a good fit for these programs. The department also lists available FWS positions for students to view both online and in the department.

The Center is extremely fortunate to have such a quality relationship with both SFS and Student Employment. It is clear that opportunities provided through community-based FWS positions such as Azusa Reads, AVID, and SLAs are a major benefit to our undergraduate students, providing them with a way to earn money while fulfilling their desire to serve others in their community.

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