Established in 1994 through a W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant, the Center for Social Responsibility and Community (CSRC) emphasizes an opportunity-oriented approach to social issues. The center helps students develop a strong sense of social responsibility and the necessary skills to continue throughout their lives as leaders in business, government, education, and the social sector.
The Center supports the development and implementation of new solutions to existing social needs by engaging students in hands-on experiences in our community. Faculty and community members play an active role in supporting creative thinking, enhancing student leadership, and building capacity in the community for the college’s students.
Student values, attitudes and behavior have changed as a result of their involvement in the Center. In addition, students develop empathy with the clients they serve in their volunteer, internship or service-learning placements. Some continue with their initial agency after their voluntary involvement. Additionally, students’ self-concepts expand when they are seen and utilized as valuable resources.
The Center uses several strategies to promote opportunities-oriented social enterprises:
- Offering quality volunteering, service-learning and internship opportunities
- Providing a student-led and run information and referral office
- Collaborating and partnering among administration, faculty, students, community agencies and campus clubs and organizations
- Administering an AmeriCorps/Rural School Empowerment Program
- Offering American Humanics training and professional certification
- Offering consulting to nonprofit organizations and counseling to students to promote social entrepreneurship
Currently, CSRC serves more than 90 nonprofit organizations and is an active part of Nonprofit Leadership Forum operating in Oneonta. More than 20% (1,000 students) of SUNY College at Oneonta students are involved with the Center and 15 students are working towards an American Humanics Professional Certificate in nonprofit leadership. The Center’s AmeriCorps program has nearly 100 members serving Otsego County’s elementary schools. The CSRC program has been replicated in eight different universities and dissemination is currently taking place as far as in Helsinki, Finland, in the form of open lectures on social responsibility. Thirty percent of CSRC’s graduates work in international workplaces, thus impacting global communities. Other programs that CSRC is involved include CNS Service-Learning Initiative, SCALE Literacy Training, VISTA, Boy Scouts’ Pop-Corn Sale and many other projects.
As an example of various projects, this year CSRC received a $5,000 grant to promote service-learning in 21st Century schools in the Oneonta area from CNS/Binghamton School District as well as a $7,000 grant from SCALE to provide monthly workshops in literacy education.