Daily Point of Light # 2265 Oct 9, 2002

Niagara University, a four-year, comprehensive, independent, nonprofit, liberal arts college, was founded in 1856, by the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers who take their name from their founder, Vincent de Paul, a French priest, devoted to serving the needs of the poor and helpless.

The creation of the Niagara University Community Action Program (NUCAP) in 1965 formalized the involvement of Niagara’s students in community service projects and currently places more than 1,000 students annually in community service settings. In 1994, a grant from the Corporation for National Service enabled the University to expand community service efforts by establishing the Learn and Serve Niagara program, designed to enhance academic skills and life-long learning by promoting and advocating social change and by attempting to instill in students the value of service to others. It also ensures the continued provision of necessary assistance to the poor, infirmed, aged and youth of the Niagara community. The Learn and Serve Niagara program focuses on education and human needs.

Learn and Serve Niagara offers tutoring and mentoring to high risk elementary and secondary students in 37 sites in 10 Niagara and Erie County School Districts and 14 private and after-school sites. Over 700 Niagara University undergraduates and graduate students annually help an average of 10,000 school-age students. Each tutor contributes between 18 and 20 hours per semester. Social and cultural activities, in addition to tutoring, are provided at after-school sites. All tutors/mentors are required to participate in training provided by Niagara University’s Learning Center or the College of Education.

Learn and Serve Niagara addresses a variety of human needs such as domestic violence prevention, homelessness, hunger, help with tax preparation and financial planning. Students work at soup kitchens, hospitals and nursing homes. Students and faculty in the College of Business have been working with a group of community women teaching them the skills to start their own businesses. This project is in collaboration with the Center for Joy and Center City Neighborhood Corporation.

The Learn and Serve Niagara program promotes service learning by encouraging faculty to either revise existing courses or develop new courses, which have service learning components. During the 1998-99 academic year, more than 30 classes with a service-learning component were taught. The courses were offered in each of the five colleges of Niagara University and involved 1,900 students in excess of 40,000 service hours to the community.