Center for Service withdraws as sponsor from some groups

by Noah Goldstein | 7/28/16 6:58pm

7.29.16.news_.centerforservice_Tiffany-Zhai
The Center for Service, formerly part of the Tucker Foundation.
Source: By Tiffany Zhai/ The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The center will sponsor an undetermined number of groups into the spring with at least six remaining with the center permanently. As part of this move, groups that are not sponsored by external organizations will no longer have the budget they used to have under the Tucker Foundation, deputy director for the Center for Service Loren Miller said.

Miller noted that five of these groups rely on the center’s funds to carry out their community service missions. Those groups will have the option to apply to the center for funds, she said. These groups’ expenses range from $137 to $1,300 per year. Students will work more directly with Upper Valley organizations instead of coordinating through the Center for Service.

“By us taking ourselves out as intermediaries, there are a range of different directions that students can go,” Miller said.

In June of 2014, the Board of Trustees voted to split the Tucker Foundation into the Center for Service and the William Jewett Tucker Center. The Board, in a statement at the time, wrote that the Center for Service would focus on public service and social activism. The Tucker Center’s focus is on spirituality and religious life. Provost Carolyn Dever approved plans for the two new centers in May of 2015. The 26 student volunteer groups affiliated with the Tucker Foundation at the time are now affiliated with either Tucker or the Center for Service, Miller said.

The center will continue to advise at least six student groups, but probably more, she said.

“We want to meet community needs and we want students to be able to continue to find a range of volunteer opportunities,” she said.

Miller said the center decided to prioritize helping student organizations to work with children because Upper Valley organizations working with children request a large number of student volunteers. The center will be also offering 40 internships, an all-time high for the center.

The center wants to prioritize providing more opportunities to individual students as several organizations have caps on the number of volunteers they can accept. The center will launch an online portal in OrgSync, an online community management system, in the fall. Miller said the system will allow community partners to advertise to more students and potentially gain more volunteers. Students would use the portal to sign up for volunteer opportunities directly.

Some student groups currently working with local organizations already operate independently from the center. The Upper Valley Haven, for example, already has its own volunteer and internship program.

The center has been meeting with students and community partners to help create solutions to upcoming changes, such as the center no longer serving as an intermediary while still providing training to members of organizations. The center is also looking to incorporate faculty more in order to add expertise in a variety of fields, Miller said.

Despite changes in sponsorship, the Center of Service has guaranteed clubs that they can still use its cars for transport.

There has been a range of responses to the changes but, Miller said, community leaders are excited about reaching out to more students. She noted a few students expressed concerns about being able to sustain student leadership due to organizations not acting as formal groups.

Others, Miller said, are frustrated with the changes happening, but the center will be working with them to accommodate their concerns.

Heidi Ahn ’18, one of four co-chairs for the Haven Shelter Cooking Program, said that the center taking a step back will make their group’s operations more difficult, as it will put more responsibility on the student leaders. With the Haven Cooking Program’s budget being cut, the chairs will have to find alternate sources of funding.

Ahn said the center warned the clubs of the changes at the beginning of this summer and is trying to help the organization with its transition.

If the organization cannot secure funding, then it may have to cut the number of times that it can cook at the Haven, Ahn said.

Dustin Sheehan ’18 is a student leader for MoneySmart, a five-to-10 member organization dedicated to teaching financial literacy and education to members of the Upper Valley community.

Prior to the changes, the center provided MoneySmart with transport in the form of cars in addition to advice and direction.

The club will be looking to partner with a group in the Upper Valley for mentorship and direction, he said.

Sheehan noted that despite the organizational shift, he did not expect MoneySmart to see many changes as the center has helped the organization make the transition through suggesting new sponsors and being open to conversations with the leaders. However, he thought that clubs that needed funding may be hit harder than MoneySmart will be.

The center does not work as closely with groups like MoneySmart that fall outside its main areas of expertise, Miller said.

Dylan Cahill ’18 is a student leader of the Cancer and Patient Services program, which provides volunteers to perform chores for local families affected by cancer or go to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to talk with people receiving treatment.

The organization has around 100 students per Dartmouth class on its email list, but, due to its flexible nature, a smaller subset regularly participate, usually around 100 students, he said.

Cahill said that though CAPS is completely student-run and coordinated through the hospital, the club is still looking for a new sponsor. Depending on the sponsor, CAPS could see little to no change. However, if the organization has to operate through the hospital, members would be required to go through the hospital’s month-long training process.

Leaders of CAPS, which will operate through the center during the transition, have had multiple meetings with the center talking about the changes.

Cahill said that the center will also continue to help clubs in recruiting new members

“With the Center for Service restructuring, CAPS is sort of its own self-run club. Maybe some minor tweaks will occur, but everything else is more bureaucratic in a way that won’t affect how CAPS operates,” Cahill said.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email that the center will be adding more opportunities to increase the depth of student volunteer work through providing skills that will be helpful fields such as social entrepreneurship or philanthropy while also increasing access to service opportunities.

The center’s new programming will be rolling out over the next three years, she wrote.

“My focus is that students who want to do service can do service,” Miller said.

Correction appended (Aug. 4, 2016):

The original version of this article stated that the Center for Service would withdraw as an intermediary from all 17 of the student organizations it oversees. In fact, the center will no longer sponsor many, but not all, of the groups at some point in the fall. The details of who the center will continue to be sponsor have also been added to the article.

Loren Miller did not decline to comment on the funds of each group and the changes, but rather did not have the numbers immediately available to her. This article has been corrected to include information on the funds used by student groups. The original title for this article “Center for Service reorganizes, sees cuts” implied the center itself had seen cuts to its funding which is incorrect. The corrected title better reflects the situation.