Community Engagement Collaborative Aims to Improve Campus and Community Service

The Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC), a program of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, introduces this month the Community Engagement Collaborative (CEC), a program to document the university's efforts to tackle societal issues such as hunger, homelessness and domestic violence in Austin.

Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, "The CEC is a first-of-its-kind program at a college or university designed to identify and catalog the various ways that the university and the community organize around specific societal issues. Through the collaborative, we want to enhance the university's impact on the greater Austin community."

The inspiration behind the CEC was provided by the recommendations of the Commission of 125, the group that convened to express a vision of how The University of Texas at Austin can better serve Texas and society over the next 25 years. The Commission's recommendations included the university's need for students, faculty and staff to use their knowledge, research and scholarship to give back to society.

The CEC is documenting the university's efforts to tackle societal issues in Austin through the services of 10 AmeriCorps VISTA members. Each VISTA member concentrates on an individual service directive area and identifies all resources in that area, including the university's community engagement programs, research, instruction, service efforts and other resources and service agencies within the community. The information is being collected and made available through a series of blogs and Web site resources.

These resources may now be accessed online. For example, by visiting the homelessness link under the Community Engagement Collaborative, one will find information about Posada Esperanza, a shelter for immigrants, and the Trinity Center, which provides meals, bus passes, computer use and other services to the homeless in Austin as well as a link to a recent report "Solutions for Homeless Chronic Alcoholics in Austin."

The three-year goal of the CEC is to be the catalyst to provide a more organized effort for researchers, instructors, students and community leaders to come together to make major impacts on the most dire issues facing the Austin community.

The VSLC Community Engagement Collaborative is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Student Services Budget Committee and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. For more information contact the Collaborative office at 471-6173, the VSLC office at 471-6161, or visit to access the service directive blogs.