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The Ripple Effect of a Single Donation

Katie Shumway

Director of Community Learning Lab

kids in social work classroom with raised hands

A donation has helped to fuel numerous projects through the Community Learning Lab, benefiting both community partners and Social Work students.

Thanks to a generous gift from a donor, the Community Learning Lab launched its Small Grants Big Impacts awards in August 2022.

“The awards are used to fund School of Social Work faculty, staff, or students to support a service project that benefits a community partner,” says Katie Shumway, director of the lab.

The Community Learning Lab (CLL) has over 100 such partners; all told, the CLL has provided more than 53,000 hours of community service and provided over 2,500 opportunities for students to engage as citizens and enhance their marketable skills. The CLL is celebrating its 10th anniversary in fall 2023.

Small Grants Big Impacts Projects

The Small Grants Big Impacts (SGBI) awards made possible by the donor include:

  • A collaboration between Clinical Assistant Professor Kim Rice’s senior social work class and Rantoul Township High School to organize student educational workshops on body image, healthy conflict resolution, LGBTQ topics, depression, pressures of social media, changes in families, and healthy coping skills.
  • Newly-named Dean Benjamin Lough’s 200 level social work course assisted the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District with creating a resource guide for adolescents and creating a website to advertise the information.
  • Associate Professor Kevin Tan and some of his graduate students used SGBI funding to transport Danville Hope Center students and their families to the University of Illinois campus, where they toured the campus and ate in a dining hall.
  • MSW student Joann Boblick created cookbooks using recipes from clients associated with Building Ecumenical Discipleship through Sheltering (BEDS), which offers a range of services for homeless people, to raise funds for a refrigerator for their housing program.
  • Sharva Hampton-Campbell, graduate student affairs coordinator, is using her SGBI funding to support The Village Project, which she created to meet the needs of U of I students who have gone through the foster care system. The project includes establishing a host family program to support the emotional and academic success of the students in the program.
  • PhD candidate Dora Watkins is using her SGBI funding to obtain supplies and pay fees associated with the Tour de Healing, a therapeutically-applied, art-based community engagement effort to support people of color.

Donation Fuels Mission

“This donation has allowed the Community Learning Lab to support service projects that benefit our awesome community partners,” Shumway says. “It’s wonderful to see the innovative and collaborative ideas that come from social work faculty, staff, and students.”

The donation is also being used to fund Madison Sewell, a PhD student, in her qualitative evaluation of the CLL’s community partners. “We’re evaluating our partners’ perceptions of the CLL and seeing what areas we can improve in and in what ways we can be a better partner,” she says. “It’s important to get a sense of how things are going from the viewpoint of our community partners.”

In addition, the CLL has used some of the donation funds to host a Community Partner Thank You event, which included a workshop on grant writing.

“This donor has helped us forward our mission to help our community partners enrich the services they provide while giving our students great experiential opportunities,” Shumway says.

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