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Bentley Service-Learning Center Faculty Awards Focus on Grant-Writing, Performance Evaluation, and Media Studies as Tools of Civic Engagement

Contact: Helen Henrichs, 781-891-2277, hhenrichs@bentley.edu

May 24, 2012

The Bentley Service-Learning Center announced three faculty grant awards: Joan Atlas, Skip Hachey and Liz LeDoux. The development grants are for $1,000 each for community-based projects. All three grant winners will offer faculty seminars on their projects during the course of the spring and fall semesters.

The following details the nature of the work for each professor:

Joan Atlas, English and Media Studies: Joan Atlas’ pioneering work on grant-writing as a context for developing students’ research skills recently yielded successful grant applications for two of Bentley’s community partners. As she explores ways to develop a grant-writing unit that could be incorporated as a 4th credit option into a larger number of courses at Bentley, the faculty award will be used to do so initially for the Expository Writing II course. A pilot project will be implemented this fall. 

“Students will be assigned to real nonprofits that have each identified a project for which they would like to obtain funding,” Atlas notes. “They will conduct research on possible grantors who might fund the project and will prepare an annotated bibliography of funding sources.”

Students will also conduct demographic or sociological research to support the grant proposal and submit those results to the partner. Atlas will provide a variety of materials to guide the students through the process, and will train the professors who offer the fourth credit option. The goal is to enable more students to learn about the grant-writing process, and to allow more nonprofits in the area to receive assistance with grant writing.

Skip Hachey, Finance: Skip Hachey piloted a project in which students in his Performance Management and Evaluation course worked with the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Association to determine the cost of homelessness for one of its organizational members, Father Bill’s Place/MainSpring. 

Hachey will continue to work with MHSA to increase the project’s effectiveness both as a tool of organizational analysis and as an important hands-on learning experience for students in this capstone course. The team headed to two shelters to observe important operational processes, including food preparation and serving, client intake, and triage to determine new client needs.

“Performance measures are needed and useful for all types of organizations, particularly nonprofits that have to prove their funds are going to good use,” says Hachey.

Liz LeDoux, English and Media Studies: Liz LeDoux has long been an advocate of media as a tool of civic engagement and her grant project will build on her experience in this area, particularly through her work with the Waltham Public Middle Schools. Taking the Principles of Media Production course as her starting point, she will develop a video praxis that can be readily implemented by other media and culture faculty, as well as faculty in other disciplines. Her goal is to make media production and a more interdisciplinary approach to engaging students and their non-profit partners with visual media of utmost importance.

“Media literacy is an absolute necessity for every student,” LeDoux says. “How to deconstruct and make meaning from the many signs, symbols, and subtexts of media in our everyday lives is a vital skill, as is the ability to create media and connect to one's creative process.

“By incorporating visual media, such as the documentary, into any classroom, this type of project-based learning environment serves to reinforce concepts of the classroom while providing a means for students to learn more about the community in which they live.”

Type: Campus News