In celebration of Neal Naigus: Long-Serving ORCC Board Member transitions.
Neal Naigus, a long-serving member of Oregon Campus Compact’s Board of Directors stepped down from the board in June. PCC will continued to be represented on the board by PCC: Southeast President Jessica Howard.
In addition to being on ORCC’s board, Neal has been deeply involved in the service-learning community. In his role as Assistant to the District President at Portland Community College (PCC), Naigus served as a link between the community and the college by identifying community needs and addressing these needs through college services.
This relationship between higher education and community engagement was further solidified through his work as Director of the Pacific Northwest Public Policy Institute, which trains moderators in the National Issues Forums (NIF) process of public deliberation.
Josh Todd, Executive Director for Oregon Campus Compact said that Neal’s expertise has been appreciated and his input would be missed.
"Neal has been a stalwart force on the Oregon campus compact board. He has served for years promoting service, community engaged learning, and representing Oregon's largest college- Portland Community College,” Todd said. “We will miss his critical lens and we are so thankful for his service."
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
It has been one year as Executive Director of Oregon Campus Compact and it seemed fitting, as any good service-learning professional would, to reflect on what I’ve learned. The first thing I learned is we aren’t just about service-learning here at Campus Compact. In Oregon and at the National office in Boston, Campus Compact is becoming more focused on the question “in service of what?”
My 6 months as Interim Director focused on working with our incredible board (led by Concordia’s President Chuck Schlimpert and joined this year by President Jessica Howard from Oregon’s newest campus- PCC: Southeast) to determine our strategic focus.
That process led us to look at the role colleges and universities, their students, faculty, staff and Presidents can play in achieving Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal to ensure 100% of Oregonians gain a high school diploma or GED, 40% go on to earn an Associates degree, and another 40% go on to earn a Bachelors or higher.
We spend a lot of resources both public, private and personal to ensure students graduate with degree but it is a missed opportunity if all of those students in higher education aren’t also using their education as an opportunity to learn through working with their local communities to solve some of the most pressing problems of our State.
Just think if every single college student got out of their classrooms and engaged with communities to solve problems like the high school drop out rate, racial disparities in educational success, or college access. That would make a huge impact and use our resources more effectively. That is what we call a Higher IMPACT Education!
Over the past year Campus Compact in Oregon and across the nation have become more focused on network-wide our strategic priorities:
We are launching new programs like the College Access Corps and Connect2Complete to focus on these new goals but we want to go far so we want to go together. How can we support you, our members in achieving these goals? What support or programs would you like to see from the Compact over the next several years? What are we currently doing that appreciate most? I invite and encourage a dialogue so that together we can help achieve a Higher IMPACT Education for all Oregonians!
Students at Yoncalla Elementary Middle School will get a new kind of education in the next school year – mentorship. Two classes from the school are going to be “adopted” by a college access coach from Oregon State University.
The year will begin with these students meeting their adopted college student. Thereafter, every two weeks, this coach will have Skype sessions where he or she will go over topics such as comparing college to elementary school and how to financially plan for college.
This program is a partnership between the OSU Precollege Program, the Oregon State University GEAR UP program and the Oregon and Washington Campus Compact program the College Access Corps,. The College Access Corps is funded by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The Adopt-A-Classroom/Adopt-A-College Student program was piloted in 2012 and 2013 academic years with Alder Elementary and Hauton B. Lee Middle School. Two OSU college mentors reached 250 students over the course of these years.
Kyle Cole, Precollege Programs Director, said the program did well but is limited by funding.
“The program was very successful but we do not have the funds to scale the program up,” Cole said.
With the introduction of the College Access Corps, the Adopt-A-Classroom program can expand its reach. The College Access Corps provides a full-time AmeriCorps member to coordinate and train 11 college students to be college access coaches.
Each of these 11 coaches will adopt two classrooms and will engage and mentor at least 50 students. This will allow the Precollege program expand its reach to Ford Family Foundation GEAR UP schools, according to Cole.
“The CAC Coordinator will enable us to increase the capacity of the program and offer it to the Ford Family Foundation GEAR UP Schools,” Cole said. “The partnership will allow us to connect at least 550 new GEAR UP students with a college student mentor.”
This is good news for Yoncalla Elementary Middle School, a K-8th grade school with 209 students. It is a small school serving a small town of about 1000 people. 87 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch according to the Oregon Department of Education income eligibility guidelines.
Yoncalla Elementary Middle School will join ten other schools such as Joseph Lane Middle School in Roseburg, North Douglas Elementary Middle School in Drain, and the Reedsport Community Charter School. All Ford Foundation GEAR UP schools chosen as host sites have at least a 50 percent or higher student population eligible for free or reduced priced lunch.
At the end of the school year, the students meet with their coach a second time at Oregon State, according to Cole.
“Many of the GEAR UP students will visit OSU through our Campus Field Trip program where they can meet their college student mentors in their natural habitat,” Cole said.
No one knew what to expect the first time the college mentor visited his adopted students. Cole wondered if the students would even recognize him or connect with him. Thankfully, those fears were misplaced.
“They didn't know he was coming for a visit and when they recognized him in the hall, they mobbed him,” Cole said. “He was a rock star to them.”
We at ORCC wish Arashi Young well as she moves on to new ventures. We asked her to reflect on her time at ORCC and what life lessons she took home from her experiences.
Before I worked at ORCC, my only exposure to AmeriCorps was a close friend who served two years at Trout Lake in Washington. I remember visiting and feeling in awe at the camaraderie they had with each other.
Working at ORCC brought me close to that same feeling of service and teamwork. Now, I am in awe of the people I have met through this experience. They are some of the most determined and unflappable folks I have ever met. They get amazing work done and yet still manage to be thoughtful, caring, silly, and sweet.
I have worked in small businesses and large corporations, I have worked in governments, public radio and I have freelanced by myself. Oregon Campus Compact is the first non-profit that I have ever worked for. I had this idea that non-profits were the scrappy second cousin of businesses or governments. ORCC has opened my eyes to the world of local and regional non-profits and the network of support in the Portland area.
I feel lucky that I got a first-hand look at all the good work being done to change the world: mentorship programs, service-learning, food drives, neighborhood cleanups, college access programing, equity and social justice reforms... the list goes on. It is uplifting to know that there are so many people are constantly fighting to do this good work.
I am grateful for this experience and the wonderful people I have met here. I wish ORCC the best as they continue to push for equitable college access.