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Campus-community partnership honored for outstanding work

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

LAWRENCE — Van Go Inc., an arts-based social service agency that provides year-round after-school and summer job training programs to youth in Lawrence, received the Outstanding Community & Campus Collaboration award during the 2013 Campus Compact Heartland Conference, which was Sept. 19-20 in Tulsa, Okla.

The Outstanding Community & Campus Collaboration award recognizes a sustained campus-community partnership as evidenced by agency involvement in the development of the course goals and measurable impact on students. Nominees from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma Campus Compact member institutions were eligible to receive this inaugural award.

The Van Go Inc. – KU partnership was recognized for its shared goals and meaningful outcomes. While this partnership has extended across multiple KU departments, such as social welfare, applied behavioral Sciences, communication studies, and architecture, the longest-running partnership is with the Department of Visual Art. For the past eight years, students in Professor Mary Anne Jordan’s Art 500 course have spent approximately 100 hours with Van Go over the course of the semester.

Jordan sees the value embedded in partnering with Van Go. “The benefits of a strong relationship with the university and this community organization seem obvious and essential,” said Jordan. “I am proud to have been associated with Van Go for many years, and I look forward to many more.”  

The efforts of the semester’s work between the youth and KU students results in works of art, one of the more popular forms being vibrantly painted community benches. There are currently approximately 300 Van Go benches around Lawrence, 12 of which can be found on the KU campus.

KU is a member of Kansas Campus Compact, an organization headquartered in Manhattan that funds and facilitates service learning and civic engagement at the higher education level. Kansas Campus Compact belongs to Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,100 colleges and universities dedicated to community engagement.