2020 Engaged Campus Award Recipients

In order to spotlight great projects, partnerships, and programs, we accept nominations for the following selective award categories. Nominations for these awards are reviewed and scored by outside reviewers. See below for this year’s awardees, organized by award. Find Minnesota awardees here.

A recent project, program, or initiative making unique and innovative contributions that demonstrate strong future potential, including student-led projects.

Iowa Western Community College Greenhouse Initiative, Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Iowa Western Community College’s Greenhouse Initiative is a group of organizations, programs, faculty, and students who are all working together to bring life back into the greenhouse. For years the greenhouse has sat underutilized. Fall 2018, students in the Sustainable Energy Program researched and proposed to install an aquaponics system in the west greenhouse. Spring 2019 this proposal was realized. Sustainable Energy students are still caring for the system that has been growing produce. Produce is divided among departments and projects. Our Culinary Department uses it to cook, sell locally, and then donate to local organizations in need of fresh produce. Additionally, Psychology and Sociology instructors are collaborating with Sustainable Energy to assess students’ understanding of environmental sustainability before and after using the Aquaponics system. The east greenhouse is used by Iowa Western’s Service Learning Department and the organizations Golden Hills Resource Conservation District and Lutheran Family Services. Golden Hills RC&D utilizes the space to grow native plants and educate the public through continuing education classes. In the spring, Golden Hills RC&D will sell these native plants at low cost. Service Learning students and AmeriCorps volunteers will care for the plants until they are ready to sell. The remaining area will be utilized by Omaha’s Lutheran Family Services. Vegetable plants will be grown for home or for small market farming.

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Engaged Citizen Corps, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

The Engaged Citizen Corps (ECC) is an intentionally designed service-year program for entering first-year students at Drake University who want to take creative action to solve social problems. The program combines academics with a service internship and living-learning community in the residence hall. ECC exposes members to issues of social justice while providing them hands-on experience to impact the Des Moines community. Members are enrolled in the Campus Compact AmeriCorps Program, where they serve weekly service-learning hours with a local non-profit, all the while making connections between their community experiences and academic pursuits. The service internship is directly integrated into the assignments and activities of 9 credits (2 courses plus a year-long seminar). Service sites represent agencies working across multiple areas including youth development, affordable housing, poverty and homelessness, and more. 

The ECC program attracts students of the highest academic caliber and community accomplishments. Over the past four years, 181 students have applied for for 40 spots. 25% of applicants indicated that the ECC program influenced their decision to apply to Drake. ECC Alumni go on to serve in leadership roles ranging from Vice President of Service and Philanthropy, Service Chair of the Residence Hall Association, president of service-related student organizations and one is even serving on the board of a local youth-serving non-profit organization.

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A collaboration co-created with community organizations, leaders, and/or partners that is deep, reciprocal, and transformational.

Grinnell Education Partnership, Grinnell, Iowa

The Grinnell Education Partnership brings together community non-profits, area employers, the Grinnell-Newburg School District, and community volunteers to support kids and families in Grinnell, Iowa. 

Supported by a team of AmeriCorps members embedded in non-profit organizations across the community, the partnership is helping to ensure that Grinnell’s kids get both a strong start and strong finish to their school experience. Since the program’s inception in 2015, the Grinnell Education Partnership has engaged approximately 150 AmeriCorps Members, involved more than 20 local organizations and engaged more than 300 volunteers who have contributed over 1,000 hours of volunteer time. Through new collaborations, participants have piloted or enhanced more than 15 community-based programs – such as creating a full range of summer enrichment opportunities for elementary-level students, combating chronic absenteeism, and creating a high school internship program to help new graduates get a leg up. 

The partnership has generated widespread community support by bridging educational gaps and improving educational opportunities and outcomes for ALL kids. Connecting volunteers and organizations to leverage existing resources in new ways, this collective-impact initiative has captured the community’s imagination, rallied volunteerism, fostered relationships, and achieved measurable results in student success. Reading scores are up and the achievement gap rapidly closing.

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An Iowa or Minnesota business nominated by a member institution for its commitment to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement in community.

Foster Group, Des Moines, Iowa (nominated by Simpson College)

Foster Group offers clients a full complement of financial services, including investment management, qualified retirement plan consulting and design, and advanced financial planning services. They display a values-driven approach, not in just what they say, but in how they serve their clients, their communities, and their fellow team members. 

Foster Group’s vision is to encourage their clients in their pursuits of meaningful living and generous giving. Social impact of clients, employees and the firm are all parts of Foster Group’s annual Board review process, making sure it is a focal point of the company. 

Foster Group’s commitment to society is lived out through their ‘VIEW – Volunteering Impacts Everyone’s World’ program. Employees form teams to align volunteer efforts with different organizations allowing for friendly competition between teams as well as giving their colleagues a chance to learn about the mission and vision of each of the organizations selected. Nearly 40% of employees volunteer on boards at various charitable organizations in the communities that Foster Group serves.

Foster Group wishes for each of their clients to establish a charitable giving plan. To that end, the company reports to its clients on a monthly basis the amount that the company is aware of clients contributing to their causes. 

Foster Group understands and acts upon the need to be social impact change agents one firm, one employee and one client at a time.

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An alum of a member institution making strong contributions to their community and demonstrating the values of the civic mission of higher education.

Maria Garcia, ‘12 Graduate of Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa

Maria is a Behavioral Health Intervention Services Program Supervisor for Northwest Iowa, and her job duties include supervising direct Social Workers who are working with children and families in developing skill building interventions based on areas of needs. This can include coping skills, anger management skills, expression of feelings, communication and healthier family relationships. Maria supports each social worker in meeting each client were they are at, as well as providing them with individual support to decrease burn out and promote self care.

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Kellie Markey, ‘88 Graduate of Central College, Pella, Iowa

Kellie was a proven leader in marketing and business development during the first 15 years of her career, eventually landing a job at eBay in San Francisco. She worked her way up to vice president of global direct marketing, leading data base communication strategies for and managing assets and equity investments in Asia, Latin America and Canada for eBay International. After leaving eBay, Markey took time to find herself and her passion. Eventually, it led her to volunteering with teen girls back in her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. She also became a foster parent before eventually finding Dorothy’s House. Markey opened Dorothy’s House in January 2016 in Des Moines to serve survivors of human trafficking. It is a long-term, residential home that provides survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation with a space, resources and support needed to find their journey. Central College awarded Markey its Alumna Award in 2017 for her exceptional professional accomplishments and contributions to others. She also received a 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award from Dowling Catholic High School; was named to the 2018 Des Moines Register’s People to Watch; received the 2018 United Way Impact Maker Award; and in 2018 received the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking Award for Outstanding Anti-Trafficking Service. Markey also was asked by Central College to give the commencement address to its 2020 graduating class.

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