Rollins College

General Community Service
Rollins College | Winter Park, Florida, Lewis Duncan, president

Rollins College logoIn 1885, when New England Congregationalists brought their idea of a liberal arts education to the frontiers of Florida, they may not have realized that they were building the foundation of an education that would prepare students for a life of global citizenship and responsible leadership. As the oldest recognized college in the state, Rollins College has been empowering young people to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers for more than 125 years.

Rollins has excelled in creating programs that have institutionalized the expectation of community service. Starting with SPARC (Service Philanthropy Activism Rollins College), Rollins encourages students to actively serve the community from the moment they walk on the campus. Everyone in the college community—from first-year and transfer students to professors and alumni—works with 21 nonprofit agencies in Central Florida during the academic year. The community service work of SPARC contributed more than 6,100 hours to various nonprofit agencies and saved those agencies more than $43,800 in 2009.

More than 83 percent of students at Fern Creek Elementary School receive free or discounted lunches, and 24 percent of the students are homeless at any given time. Many of the students at Fern Creek grow up thinking that college is out of reach. Mentors, placed in classes to assist students with math, reading, writing, and science, can also act as an additional caring adult, offering hope and expanding students’ life skills. More than 50 Rollins mentors are active in the children’s school lives every week, creating an impact on the lives of the students and the culture of the school itself. When the partnership began six years ago, Fern Creek was a D school in the state’s grading system; in recent years, the school has received an A.

The Grand Avenue Primary Learning Center is located in a neighborhood comprised of low- to moderate-priced homes, subsidized apartments, and a housing project. The year-round partnership included 150 staff, faculty and students who donated 1,100 hours of service. Eight graduates of Rollins’ Education Department are employed as teachers at Grand Avenue, illustrating the important continuum of college service and post- college professional life.

Rollins’ immersion program, Citizens Take Action (CTA), exposes participants to cultural, civic, social, political, and structural issues in the community internationally and domestic. The school created opportunities for 175 students to participate in leadership development and multicultural education and to engage with the community. The students rebuilt homes, constructed hand-washing stations for farm workers, and provided health screenings in Nepal, providing 5,000 hours of direct community service during the 2009-2010 academic year.

At Rollins College, the former frontiers of Florida are now populated with eager, dedicated community service volunteers who are finely tuned to the needs of their communities.

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