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Dec 01, 2008

DePaul Partnership With Puerto Rican Cultural Center Wins Top Prize of $15,000 From Illinois Campus Compact

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A seven-year collaboration between DePaul University and Chicago’s Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) earned top honors from Illinois Campus Compact when it was named winner of the 2008 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation Award. 


DePaul’s Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning and the PRCC will share the award’s $15,000 purse and continue addressing jointly critical health, social and cultural issues affecting Puerto Rican and Latino communities.


“The creation and maintenance of a true partnership between a university and a community is an exercise in listening, planning and mutual respect,” says Howard Rosing, executive director of the Steans Center.


That approach was validated by a selection committee of higher education, business, government and community leaders who reviewed applications from 14 Illinois Campus Compact members vying for the prestigious Carter Award.


“The award reviewers indicated the worthiness of the Steans Center’s multidisciplinary approach, long-term commitment to its partner—the Puerto Rican Cultural Center—as well as the impact it has had in the community and the project’s connection to DePaul’s mission,” said Kathy Engelken, Illinois Campus Compact’s executive director.


Jose Lopez, who heads the PRCC, accepted the award, along with Rosing and Marisol Morales, associate director of the Steans Center.


Since 2001, thousands of DePaul students, faculty and staff have worked with staff at the umbrella of programs the PRCC sponsors to target low-income and working-class communities. In some projects, students gained insight about how obesity, teen pregnancy or literacy affect low-income communities and what the communities do to deal with these issues. In others, professors have taken an anthropological, sociological, geographic or marketing perspective to conduct community-based research that provides useful information to community leaders.


Students also serve, sometimes continuing their involvement long after their classes are complete and taking jobs in the neighborhood.

The reciprocal relationship that has developed is evident in many ways:

  • The PRCC and DePaul have presented jointly at community and academic conference to show others how their mutually beneficial model was created and sustained.
  • Lopez and PRCC staff have taught and lectured in DePaul classes, while a foundational immersion course in DePaul’s Community Service Studies minor is taught at Pedro Albizu Campos High School (PRCC).
  • PRCC has welcomed DePaul students and researchers into the community based on trust developed over years of partnership, providing access to learning opportunities that might otherwise not be available.
  • DePaul’s firm commitment to the partnership and its many volunteers convinced a funder to continue supporting an effective educational program until more permanent financing could be secured.

The reciprocal relationship that has developed is evident in many ways:Illinois Campus Compact is an organization of 42 universities, colleges and their presidents, who are highly committed to service-learning and civic engagement, and is the state’s affiliate for a national coalition of more than 1,100 institutions that put these values into action.

The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation sponsors the Partnership Award, named to honor the 39th President of the United States and his wife for their devotion to public service achieved through cooperation, mutual learning and shared responsibility.

(View Larger Image)
Howard Rosing and Marisol Morales of the Steans Center (middle) share top honors with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, led by Jose Lopez (right), at the Illinois Campus Compact 15th anniversary gala and award ceremony. Joining them is Miguel Satut of the Kellogg Foundation, who represented the Carter Foundation.