- Alternative Breaks
- Community Engaged Learning
- Community Engaged Scholars
- Community Issue Education
- Community Outreach
- Corporate and Foundation Partners
- Cuba Service Learning
- Internships & Fellowships
- Legacy of Lowell
- Service House
- Student Board
- Student-Directed Programs
- Utah Reads
- Awards & Honors
As we look back at the 2015-2016 academic year we feel a sense of pride in what our students, community partners, faculty and staff have accomplished. We are pleased to share with you the highlights of the past year and the excitement we feel as we look to the future.
|Bennion Service House||12||1,143||$15,195|
|Community Engaged Learning Courses||4,517||135,510||$96,485|
|Community Engaged Scholars||89||17,444||$53,595|
|Cuba Service Program||26||78||$14,627|
|Development / Advisory Board||42||490||$72,946|
|Legacy of Lowell Day of Service||561||1,683||$14,786|
|Office Support Volunteers (overhead)||89||957||$112,517|
|Community Outreach (Community Outreach)
Saturday Service Projects
$5,181,263.36 WORTH OF TIME CONTRIBUTED BY BENNION CENTER VOLUNTEERS. (INDEPENDENTSECTOR.ORG)
* EXPENSES INCLUDE STAFF SALARIES.
|Gifts and Grants||232,000.00||252,863.22|
|State Funds - Benefits||119,000.00||117,479.00|
|Pass Thru- Student Credit Hour||210,000.00||243,017.96|
|Stand Alone Activities||130,000.00||129,612.00|
|Clerical and Admin||41,241.00||38,952.49|
|TOTAL Personnel Expenses||673,561.00||619,491.83|
|Equipment - over $5000||1,200.00||-|
|Printing / Photocopying||14,500.00||2,600.56|
|Memberships Dues in Association||1,000.00||1,138.00|
|Professional Development Student||9,674.00||3,418.53|
|Professional Development Staff||5,000.00||2,825.53|
|Advisory Board & Development||2,550.00||2,846.74|
|Stand Alone Activities||130,000.00||116,670.00|
|Student Credit Hour Pass Thru||210,000.00||223,290.83|
|TOTAL Non-Personal Operating Expenses||516,629.00||486,940.15|
160 Students / 60 community partners / 7920 Hours of Service / 18 locations
18 Student leaders / 18 U staff
I have been engaged in service before but this trip made me reflect on what our communities
in SLC need and methods to reach those needs.
The Bennion Center’s Alternative Breaks program supports students seeking deeply engaged learning experiences that create profound personal growth. Students are immersed in specific issue-based community projects such as restoring ecosystems, rehabilitating injured animals, providing support to women living in poverty, and serving people living with homelessness, hunger and illness. All Alternative Breaks experiences are student-planned and led. Each student site leader learns valuable leadership and management skills by working with a U faculty/staff and community partner to arrange all travel, meals, lodging, training, service and reflection logistics.
My knowledge was broadened and my passions were ignited! I cannot wait to implement
and utilize all the education and skills that I acquired throughout my AB experience!
This year the Alternative Breaks program introduced an AB Weekend experience. The weekend experience made it possible for students to participate in issue-based community projects closer to home but with the same focus: helping students develop civic competencies – skills, habits, values and attitudes that will shape their community engagement for a lifetime. Assessment indicates upon their return 92% of student participants are more likely to become involved in their community through volunteerism. In 2015-16, the Bennion Center was one of 100 organizations nationwide to be awarded a $6,500 grant from Noble Cause. The grant was given to mobilize volunteers in addressing challenges facing local communities. The award will help reduce student costs by approximately $39 per student beginning in 2016-17, the Alternative Breaks program’s 20th anniversary, thus helping make trips more accessible to students who may otherwise be unable to participate.
Community Engaged Learning
226 Courses /4,517 Students / 135,510 Hours of Service / 14 New Courses Approved
29 CEL Teaching Assistants
Lunch and Learn faculty training events: 67 faculty / 3 events
My experience at The Burrito Project has exposed me to many things, both directly
through my service and indirectly through my research. It has given me a greater understanding
of what environmental justice means and how it is applied. I feel a much stronger
connection with the place that I live and a much greater responsibility toward the
people that make up my community. I think that because I had such a good experience
I will be much more prone to participate in future volunteer opportunities.
Overall my CEL project helped me better understand the issue of water and water rates
here in Utah. It taught me to see a real life example of equity vs equality. I ended
up learning that how one solution that sounds like a good idea environmentally didn’t
take into account the social justice aspects of the situation.
During my first year as an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah I have been
fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach three Community Engaged Learning (CEL)
courses through the Bennion Center—that is, ‘Leadership and Community Engagement,’
the ‘Westside Studio’ and this summer, I was able to incorporate the whole of my knowledge
base into the creation of ‘ChicagoLAB,’ a course at the College+Architecture and Planning
that took place in Chicago, Illinois.
In all of these courses my students conducted primary research outside of the classroom with the main goal of tracing community assets, not by themselves but along with community-based organizations in primarily Latino communities, to entice students to learn more about these communities and propose critical public policy solutions that were sensitive to the particular groups with which they engaged.
I teach CEL courses because I am pedagogically disposed to the conviction that knowledge should engage students as well as the community they will eventually come to design, plan and represent. I chose to join the University of Utah specifically because of its commitment to community engagement and the institutions that exist to support it like the Bennion Center and the University Neighborhood Partners.
– Ivis Garcia, Professor
In recognition of the superior work faculty all across campus are doing with community engaged teaching and learning, President David Pershing and Senior Vice President Ruth Watkins hosted a special reception in their honor at the president’s home in April. More than 50 faculty members were recognized for their community engagement work.
The Bennion Center’s Spring Celebration honored Dr. Adrienne Cachelin with the Public Service Professorship Award. Dr. Cachelin received $7,500 from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs to develop a community engaged learning course focused on food access and health. She will work with a community partner and graduate students from the College of Social and Behavioral Science and the Department of Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Dr. Cachelin’s year-long work will include presentations to Bennion Center students and her colleagues about the scope and community impact of her work.
Jensie Anderson, J.D., Clinical Professor of Law, received with the Distinguished Faculty Service Award. Professor Anderson was honored with a $1,000 donation made in her name to the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center. This gift was made possible by a generous endowment from Dr. David M. and Susan Jabusch. One of the judges who selected Professor Anderson noted, “I found her commitment to service to be part of who she is, not just something she does to further her research or scholarship, and this commitment embodies what this award is all about."
Community Engaged Scholars
I’m constantly in the process of rediscovering myself, and redefining and refining
what’s most important to focus on. I’m confident that this will make me a healthy
person, and an entrepreneur, artist, and innovator with much to offer in the future.
– Scholar, J Abubo
It was a Saturday morning and the culturally-appropriate community health fair organized by Felix Vivanco-Salazar was underway. Partnering with the Comunidades Unidas (United Community) and the College of Public Health, Felix hoped to provide immigrant and undocumented Latino community members basic health services like flu shots. The first Latino medical students to graduate from the U were there, along with others he’d arranged who spoke Spanish and understood important cultural practices. If he was lucky, Felix hoped maybe one hundred people would attend. The Community Engaged Scholar was wrong. By noon more than 250 people showed up. The response was so great the make-shift clinic ran out of supplies and had to close early. One woman was referred to diagnostic care at no charge after a clinic mammogram detected a suspicious lump in her breast.
Community Engaged Scholars put their academic excellence to work through community capstone projects like the fair Vivanco-Salazar organized. These sustainable projects also serve as launch pads for students as they prepare for graduate programs, internships and other careers. The capstone project merges the scholar’s academic expertise with a community need they are passionate about. Project work is overseen by a University of Utah faculty member, a community partner, and Scholars program director Chris Jensen. Scholars must also complete at least 400 hours of community service.
In 2015, 89 students participated in the program. Fourteen scholars graduated, 11 of whom completed capstone projects. Three graduates were recognized with certificates for their service hours. Besides the health fair community capstone project, scholars worked to improve access to nutritional foods, develop educational programming for refugee youth, establish a social network for teens with traumatic brain injuries to reduce social isolation, build sexual assault awareness and develop bystander training, and provide financial literacy training for refugees.
After a year of nationwide evaluation, 2015 saw a revision of the Community Engaged Scholars curriculum, making it more rigorous and centering learning outcomes on developing four Civic Competencies: civic skills (research, communication, etc.); civic awareness (the ability to recognize connections between individuals and systems); civic habits (regular civic behaviors); and civic values (social commitment and responsibility). When scholars were asked to evaluated the revised program, 94% felt they have a greater responsibility to contribute to society since joining the program. Eighty-two percent of the scholars surveyed say they now have an increased knowledge of a community issue as a result of their participation and that they are more likely to be engaged in the community in the future.
5 Students / 32 Media Stories Published or Broadcast
I came to the US in the fall last year. The student leaders told us about the Bennion
Center and all the volunteer opportunities available. I have always been interested
in volunteering so I applied for it the next day. My role in the Bennion Center as
a photographer is to capture moments. Moments of people working together to create
a better future for others. Moments where people are engaging with each other and
always having a smile on their face…These moments become memories that live forever.
As a person, I have learned a lot by getting involved with the faculty and students
at the Bennion Center. I see myself as a nurtured person, able to do things I once
hesitated to do. Leadership, management and a passion to work are the skills I developed
while working with the Bennion Center. As a global citizen I have learned to treat
people with kindness and help them in any way I can. Volunteering is the best position
you’ll find, it helps you engage with people from different areas of the world and
in building your skills.
– Tayyeb Mubarak, Student
My view: Legacy of Lowell: Honoring Lowell Bennion's lifelong contributions by giving
by Dean McGovern, Deseret News, September 25, 2015
Women refugees in Utah encounter greater challenges to resettlement, U. panel says
by Marjorie Cortez, Deseret News, December 8, 2015
Op-ed: Civil engagement leads to a fuller college education
by Dean McGovern, The Salt Lake Tribune, March 5, 2016
Sharing the stories of the people who shape and are shaped by the Bennion Center is the job of our Communications team. In 2015 student volunteers awakened the social media sleeping giant and doubled our Facebook “likes” to more than 1,500. (Are you following us?) Instagram also moved to the forefront in our efforts to communicate with our students, friends and alumni with dozens of pictures added to the sites. Besides expanded reach via social media, the Comm team implemented a new tabling tool which allows students to sign up for program information on-site via iPads. All of these improvements were part of a strategy to expand the Bennion Center’s presence across multiple media platforms. Our website underwent an overhaul to better capture web surfers and help users navigate. Capitalizing on staffer Tammy Reque’s amazing design and computer talents, the new Bennioncenter.org focused on visual navigation tools and also includes Alternative Breaks, eliminating the need to visit a separate website. The Bennion Center was featured in media coverage both on and off campus more than 32 times throughout the year. Perhaps the most notable was our partnership with Select Health and KSL NewsRadio for coverage of Legacy of Lowell. Students, staff and board members did live radio interviews over two days to help build community support for the annual service event.
Community Issue Education
Part of the Bennion Center’s mission is to engage the university with the greater community in action, change and learning. To accomplish that goal, Bennion Center students and staff partners help plan and implement three specific programs to help students and community members develop a deeper understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our day.
I have loved the dialogues. Both planning and participating in them have helped me
grow and develop useful skills that I will use for the rest of my academic and personal
Service House Dialogues: 3 Dialogues / 212.5 hours of service
Service House residents worked in teams of four to plan and facilitate three Service House Dialogues, highlighting relevant topics that included mental health, women in STEM and animal rights in the food industry. Each dialogue required student research and relationship development between appropriate community partners as they engaged in dialogue with community and campus members. The dialogues play a significant role in the Service House experience.
Issues and Action Lunches: 2 Lunches / 90 students attending
Held once each semester at the Bennion Center, these gatherings unite students and community and campus experts for an exploration of topics of concern to our communities. Each lunch event is designed to not only enlighten students and community members but also to identify specific action steps volunteers could take to make a difference. This year’s December discussion focused on how the world-wide refugee crisis is impacting Utah. The panel discussion focused specifically on the unique needs of women and children who fled their native lands and now call Utah home. The Spring Semester luncheon featured an examination of Salt Lake’s affordable housing picture in terms of what is happening now and what lies on the horizon.
Bennion Hinckley Forum: 1 Forum / 25 students attending
In partnership with the Hinckley Institute of Politics, the Bennion Center presented a discussion on social entrepreneurship – keeping good going after college. Community partners shared their strategies for getting involved and staying involved with community service while meeting the demands of busy professional lives.
1,615 Students / 6,921 Hours of Service
It has been one fast, yet exhilarating year with the Bennion Center. Being part of
Saturday service projects and Legacy of Lowell has greatly involved me in the community.
Not only did I see myself develop, but I saw how others around me be change and grow.
I have always loved volunteering, but it was always difficult for me to be fully committed
and being part of SSP and Legacy of Lowell has definitely changed that. It has challenged
me to get out and involve myself in various volunteer activities among different communities.
My thoughts have been filled with great inspiration as I’ve learned more about what
the meaning was behind Legacy of Lowell. As time flies, it’s great to see such motivated
individuals commit one Saturday to do service. It has inspired not only me to do better
around the community, but my family and friends as well.
– Jessica Bounsanga, Student
In 2015 students donated more than 2,000 hours above the 2014 volunteer service hours, a phenomenal effort in and of itself. Some of the most significant changes in Community Outreach centered around Project Youth. As students worked to re-imagine how Project Youth could inspire underserved elementary school children, they restructured the classroom curriculum, built stronger professional relationships with school administrators, and made the event more environmentally sustainable. Besides students who volunteer as site leaders preparing the children for their campus visit, more than 300 additional volunteers are needed to escort the students once they arrive on campus. Project Youth student leaders also helped forge a partnership with United Way, allowing the program to increase the number of elementary schools that can participate and expanding student reach.
Besides Project Youth, hundreds of U students honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by joining forces with community members to volunteer at five different community agencies. Working with the U’s Office of Equity and Diversity, volunteers donated more than 500 hours at that project alone. Earth Day activities at three community sites resulted in almost 200 volunteers working together to contribute 375 hours of service that beautified our community in River District neighborhoods near Bend-in-the-River, at Red Butte Gardens and the Social Justice Gardens.
Due to the leadership skills of these remarkable students, 12 Legacy of Lowell community partners plan to return to the 2016 event and 14 Project Youth student leaders have re-signed to continue their activism with this project.
Corporate and Foundation Partners
12 Corporations / 24 Foundations / 136 Individuals / 3 New Grant-funders / $72,946 Raised
In the world of development, or “friend-raising” as some here like to call it, new funding was secured from three new grant funders and new employee payroll deduction donors. The GiveWell Community Foundation gave $6,500 to support the Alternative Breaks program, the Utah State Board of Regents gave $5,750 to support Bennion Center operations helping to foster community engagement and ensure affordable participation and timely completion, and Select Health generously gave $9,000 over the course of the year to support Student-Directed Programs. New tracking systems are helping to manage grant requests and in-kind donations. The five committees of the Advisory Board welcomed new community members and alumni to broaden the circle of Bennion Center friends.
Cuba: Complexity, Community & Change
26 Students / 4 Campus Partners / 1 Faculty / 78 Hours of Service
The USA and Cuba have a lot of the same problems. We just each tackle them differently.
This trip has shown me that there are so many different perspectives that we can learn
from. I think if we can bridge the gaps that have prevented us from talking it can
really benefit everyone. It starts with just being open to start that dialogue.
– Christianna Johnson, Student
While I might not choose to live there myself right now, Cubans seem to love their
neighborhoods and cities. They want improvements, but we all do, no matter what country
we live in. Who am I to tell others what will make them happy? They don’t need to
live like me to be happy.
– Chelsea Haviland, Student
This community engaged learning course gave students a chance to examine first-hand the complex intersection of the past and present in relation to Cuba’s current political, economic, social and environmental changes. Historic changes in relations between Cuba and the United States set the stage for this course, offered jointly by the Public Administration and Political Science Departments.
The class included pre and post-travel classroom learning activities, in addition to a six-day stay in-country. The course gave students an opportunity, “to learn in an environment that is, in many ways, radically different than what we are used to,” says Bennion Director Dean McGovern. “It pushes us out of what we know and forces us to view things through a new lens. That’s transformative learning."
Internships & Fellowships
2 Fellows / 1 Campus Partner / 308 Hours of Service
Walking the streets in South Central Los Angeles I felt that there was more going
on than what I saw. Every day at least one homeless person would ask me for money.
There were some people who came up to me asking for the time and I would end up talking
to them about the area. Many would say the area is plagued with gang violence, injustices,
cop violence and no peace.
– Alejandra Hernandez, Student Fellow
In the summer of 2015 Alejandra Hernandez and Courtney Dean received Bennion Center / Alumni Association fellowships. Dean chose to serve in Oregon working with The Rebuilding Center at Our United Villages. Her goal was to learn how successful non-profit organizations operate. Hernandez chose A Place Called Home, located in LA, where she worked with under-served children in arts and education programs. Alejandra, or Ms. Alejandra as the children called her, noted, “I went up to Monica, my direct supervisor, and asked her why the children used the words 'Ms.' or 'Mr.' when talking to any instructors…Ms. Monica…explained the facility follows a code of conduct: REACH. REACH stands for respect, effort, accountability, caring, honesty. The children at APCH are held accountable for these pillars of life.” She noted some of her six weeks of service were “exhausting and overwhelming.” She observed how difficult it was for first generation college students to stay in college once they were admitted and wondered, “how can I be a mentor to these children who are young and encourage them to be amazing individuals who pursue a degree.”
My first staff meeting at OUV (Our United Villages) was an entertaining experience
and like no staff meeting I had ever attended before. The room itself was constructed
from all reused materials, every piece hiding its own story. The people are just as
diverse with staff, interns, volunteers and the executive director present but really,
anyone who cared about the organization would be welcomed in.
– Courtney Dean, Student Fellow
Courtney Dean also felt changed from her fellowship experience. “I came home with a new perspective and a new understanding of what it means to build a community and invest in the people around you.” She was also profoundly influenced by the OUV philosophy of respect for all. “That idea seemed so simple,” she wrote, “equality and inclusion, but it stuck with me…This philosophy drove Our United Villages and will now help drive my life.”
Read more about Courtney’s experience on our blog.
Legacy of Lowell Day of Service
561 Participants / 1,683 Hours of Service
Until taking on the role with Saturday Service Projects, I never realized the true
magnitude of service and benefit that the Bennion Center gives to the community. It
is truly inspiring to see both students and community members partner up for a big
event month after month to give back to the community. In a world where the differences
between people seem to overshadow their ability to work together, it is motivating
to see people of all backgrounds coming together to answer an important call to action
in the community. I have made so many new friends through the service projects, and
strengthened the friendships I had beforehand by doing service with those I love and
admire. My first year with the Saturday Service Projects has been an unbelievably
enriching one, but I cannot wait to see what opportunities await next year for the
generations of innovators and community-builders that come together to make a positive
change in our neighborhoods and city.
– Naveen Rathi, Student
Lowell Bennion left a legacy of service that the Bennion Center still carries on today. At the 2015 Legacy of Lowell Day of Service more than 561 students combined with community members and others to complete our 12th annual event. In our first-ever partnership with KSL NewsRadio and Select Health, students and committee members did on-air interviews to promote the event. Links from KSL and Select Health led directly to our registration site. Our partnership efforts extended to 40 different community organizations, resulting in 24 service projects and 16 sponsors.
12 Students / 1,143 Hours of Service
The Service House is my favorite place on campus! I love being with like-minded students
who are engaged in their academics, volunteerism, and ability to have a fun time.
I like that we do service projects locally and knowing we are helping people right
in our community and realize that there are issues here in SLC that we can help solve.
I love the diversity of the projects as well.
Collectively, Service House residents contributed more than one thousand hours to community engagement projects, dialogues, workshops/trainings and Bennion Center events. Here’s how those hours were distributed:
Saturday Service Projects and Service Events: 442.5 hours/ 8 events (163 hours – Officers
Hollow)The Saturday Service Projects (SSPs) are monthly volunteer projects in which
the Service House residents participate as a group. The projects expose the residents
to local issues and spark action and conversation about community needs. 2015-2016
Service House Residents participated in seven Saturday Service Projects focused on
a variety of social issues, such as children’s literacy, youth homelessness, environmental
restoration, hunger and poverty, substance abuse and recovery, and refugee support
services. Service House residents also served as team leaders for the Bend-in-the-River
Earth Day site.
One of the residents shared “…the SSPs have opened up many opportunities for me to volunteer at different places and get to know a lot of different kinds of people. The Service House has allowed me to find my balance between giving back to the community and finding who I am.”
Bennion Center Retreats, Trainings & Orientation: 91.5 hours
House Meetings: 103.5 hours
Resident Assistant Hours: 293 hours
7 Students / 1,800 Hours of Service
One of the most valuable aspects of (serving on the board) was the sense of fulfillment through both the BC staff and students’ expectations. It’s a great way to implement new ideas to help the center grow, as well as having students find themselves through service!
If I were to use that experience going forward, I’d say by applying my leadership
and communication skills in my daily life. I also find that I had more and better
awareness in our community, and through that I found things that should be done, changed
or improved on.
– Kayleen Chen, Student
The guiding force behind the Bennion Center, the student board is comprised of one representative from each emphasis area. Selected by their respective staff partners, these students meet monthly, under the guidance of Bryce Williams, to address issues that impact students serving with the Bennion Center. Their decisions determine our direction. Additionally, the board is responsible for training other BC student leaders. In 2015 the student board implemented a Winter Reception, designed as a mid-year leadership seminar. The event featured Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski in her first speech at the U as mayor. In her remarks the mayor challenged students to join city boards and become civically engaged in their own community. Throughout the year student board representatives also attended staff meetings and weighed in on discussion items like professional development for students and scholarships.
Student Directed Programs
789 Students / 51 Student Leaders / 42 Programs / 986 Hours Leadership Development
and Training /
24,584 Hours of Service
When I first started my Girl Scout troop I didn't know what to expect. It was a little
new at first but after a few meetings I really enjoyed the time I spent with the girls.
I started to see how happy the girls were to be in the troop. They would constantly
tell me how much fun they were having and how they never wanted to leave. I was really
touched when I heard that and I felt like I made a difference. I really do enjoy leading
my troop and I am excited to get more volunteers involved so they can also make a
– Sydney Chan, Program Director, Girl Scouts Outreach
Student-Directed Programs (SDPs) are a major part of our student leadership at the Bennion Center. Student leaders in this area of the center do not receive any academic credit or remuneration: all of their service and leadership is completely voluntary. In 2015-2016, three new programs were launched, bringing the total to 44. New programs include:
- Education and Advocacy: First Lego League Utah
- Environment, Arts & Recreation: Rides for Wellness
- International: Malileh Free Clinic – Spanish Medical Translation
This year we expanded the Environmental Stewardship issue area to Environment, Arts & Recreation to more fully serve the community partners and key issues. Rides for Wellness, Arts for Youth, Music 4 the Masses, Running Forward, Utah Development Academy and Utah Symphony | Utah Opera joined Edible Campus Garden, Environmental Action Team, Green Urban Lunchbox and Social Justice Gardens in this new issue area. Another exciting addition to the menu of opportunities in Student-Directed programs was First Lego League Utah in partnership with The Leonardo museum, making it the first volunteer program offered geared towards engineering (and the first to own a robot).
The Girl Scouts Outreach program planned and executed their first field trip with their troops! After receiving an in-kind donation from Red Butte Garden, Program Director Sydney Chan took the girls and volunteers for a fun and educational day at the garden.
In an effort to serve their community partner in other ways and creatively engage busy students in service, Program Director Shelby Goodfellow planned and hosted a volunteer project at the Bennion Center benefiting Primary Children’s Hospital and the Sandy Rehabilitation Center in November.
Twenty-three volunteers gathered together to make duct tape wallet kits for children
to create while they are confined to their hospital rooms. The volunteers also made
a variety of therapy projects for the rehabilitation clinic’s occupational therapists.
Some of these projects included: ribbon snakes, button boards and pincer grasp letters.
I would like to give a big thank you to those who were able to attend the project.
None of this would have been possible without volunteers generously donating their
time. I am exceedingly thankful that this project was able to bring joy to children
being treated at these centers
– Shelby Goodfellow
Issue Area Coordinators (IACs) planned 4 leadership workshops, attended or facilitated by 37 student leaders. The workshops focused on recruitment and recognition, managing program budgets, ensuring a smooth program transition between Program Directors and volunteering with greater awareness. On top of helping IACs develop their facilitation and leadership skills, the workshops are a great opportunity to explore in depth topics and issues that help student leaders succeed in their roles.
Learning about Social Justice terminology during the April Workshop was a very enlightening
experience… What was most meaningful to me was learning on how to address the individual/person
first and avoiding labels.
– Program Director
Over the last three years, I have been privileged with being able to experience the
joys, difficulties, and challenges of directing a program from a student perspective.
Not only was I able to expand my understanding of the community around me, but I was
also able to meet some amazing people who are committed to bettering the community
in which they live. I would not have the understanding I have today if it were not
for my time with the Bennion Center. I was able to make an impact in the lives of
underprivileged youth in my community through teaching them something I love, the
sport of soccer. I have to say, however, they taught me far more than I ever did them.
Because of my interactions and experiences with UDA, I am happy to say that I have
an awareness of the needs and challenges my community faces, as well as how those
problems are being met through programs like UDA. Overall, I cannot express in words
how grateful I am to have been a part of those children's lives, and am even more
for them being a part of mine.
– Austin Anderson, Program Director, Utah Development Academy
We have loved our partnership with the Bennion Center and this year has been the best
year by far in terms of volunteers and also our Program Director. I have appreciated
the time the staff has taken to analyze our impact and role of volunteers at our charity
so we are in the right program. We would be at a loss without these great, dedicated
volunteers. Their support makes our mission possible.
– Lauren Willie, Community Partner, Ronald McDonald House
68 Students / 7 Locations / 17,620 Hours of Service
I had the opportunity to help one of my students improve her reading rate and accuracy
over this past semester. When we started, she was slow and took a long time to sound
out words. After identifying what her issue was, I was able to customize her lesson
plans to fit her needs. She is now reading at a full level above what she was last
This month I had a great experience where a student who was failing decided that she
didn't want to fail anymore. So I was working with her to get her grade up and even
had a discussion with her dad to help get the grade up. After a week I asked her how
she felt she was doing and she said 'really good, school is actually fun! I enjoy
coming to class now'. It was such a great happy moment for me that she has started
to love learning and being in class.
It may be difficult to tell which lives are changed the most dramatically, students who serve as Utah Reads tutors or the elementary-aged children they help. Regardless, Utah Reads has been improving lives for more than a decade. Working at seven different sites, all serving Title I school children, tutors spend thousands of hours helping children improve their reading skills and their chances at successfully completing school. The program is a partnership with the federal Work Study program, the Salt Lake City School District, the University of Utah Reading Clinic and the Bennion Center.
Awards, Conference Presentations and Honors
July Gentry, soccer; Kenneth Scott, football; and Courtney Jost, track; were each named 2015 Utah Athletes in Service. The three were selected for their work with Special Olympics, juvenile detention programs, and U-FIT. They were honored during a presentation at a home football game.
Dr. Kim Mangun, Bennion Center Associate Director, was recognized by the American Historical Association with the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award. Kim’s work on minorities and journalism also won her the Journalism Historians Association’s J. William Snorgrass Memorial Award for the Outstanding Paper on a Minorities Topic.
Bryce Williams was selected to serve on the Sugar House Community Council Executive Committee. Bryce also serves on the U’s Diversity Council and is an Engaged Citizenship retreat group facilitator.
Morgan Byrne was selected as a board member of the University of Utah Staff Council. She’s also a board member of the Utah Society of Fund Raisers.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted the Bennion Center at a special luncheon honoring the Center’s broad-based community work.
Salt Lake County Aging Services recognized the Meals on Wheels student-directed program as an outstanding volunteer effort that promoted healthy communities.
During its accreditation process this year, university administrators stressed the importance of knowing and understanding four key goals identified as central to the U’s mission. Those goals are:
- Enhance Student Success to Transform Lives
- Generate New Knowledge and Discovery
- Improve Health and Quality of Life in the Community
- Ensure Long-term Viability of the University.
In a complimentary role, the Bennion Center’s mission is to foster lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the University with the greater community in action, change and learning. To facilitate that purpose, and assist the university in achieving its four key goals, the Bennion Center identified four objectives:
- Provide transformational engaged educational and service experiences for students and develop civic leaders who exemplify excellence.
- Lead efforts to promote community engaged teaching, research and scholarship.
- Address community needs especially in the areas of health and ability, environment, art and recreation; international; social justice; literacy and education.
- Strengthen the Bennion Center operations to maximize potential outcomes, reach and results while serving as an ambassador for the University of Utah.
Over the course of the 2015-16 academic year, Bennion Center staffers Chris Jensen, Laura Schwartz and Jennifer Jones, along with graduate assistant Devan Church, refined the Center’s assessment strategy focusing on two key areas: student learning and community impact. The goal was to measure not just hours of service, but outcomes in terms of helping students develop civic competencies and providing mission support to community partners.
Civic competencies are defined as the student’s ability to develop civic skills that can be utilized to influence positive community change. Some of those skills include critical thinking, communication skills, project management and research. Besides civic skills, the student will develop civic awareness, recognizing the interconnectedness among individuals, society and systems. Civic habits are regular behaviors related to community engagement. The student demonstrates a commitment to engagement through participation in program activities. The fourth civic skill is the development of civic values. The student demonstrates and articulates social commitment and responsibility.
The assessment team created a tool that combines technology, student leader reflections, and pre-and post-participation assessment to measure the depth and effectiveness of volunteerism through the Bennion Center, not just the amount of involvement. The new assessment protocol rolls out during the 2016-17 academic year and is expected to establish a benchmark for student engagement that will help refine programs in years to come.
Work is much more fun than fun.
– Noel Coward