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College honored for community service

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education recently announced its annual honor roll of the U.S. colleges and universities, including Bethel College, whose students, faculty members and staff have demonstrated their commitment to bettering their communities through community service and service learning.

Bethel was admitted to the Honor Roll based on its core value of service, stated in the college’s mission statement as “an ethic of service that deems concern for the powerless to be intrinsic to the Christian gospel and stresses peacemaking and voluntary service, as well as annual service events such as Service Day (coming up on April 11 this year), the spring break service trip and participation in the Angel Tree project to benefit the Harvey County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Task Force’s safe house, along with individual and group service projects that happen more spontaneously throughout the school year.

“Through service, these institutions are creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts in the community,” said Robert Velasco, acting CEO of CNCS. “We applaud the Honor Roll schools, their faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority in and out of the classroom. Together, service and learning increase civic engagement while fostering social innovation among students, empowering them to solve challenges within their communities.”

“Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap,” said Eduardo Ochoa, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education. “The Honor Roll schools should be proud of their work. … Galvanizing their students to become involved in projects that address pressing concerns and enrich their academic experience has a lasting impact – both in the communities in which they work and on their own sense of purpose as citizens of the world. I hope we’ll see more and more colleges and universities following their lead.”

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

Bethel College has applied to the Community Service Honor Roll every year except one since it was initiated in 2006 and has qualified every time it applied. For 2012, Bethel is one of only four Kansas private, four-year colleges named to the honor roll and one of only eight Kansas institutions overall.

CNCS, which administers the honor roll, this year approved the applications of 642 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Of that total, 513 were named to the Honor Roll, 110 received the recognition of Honor Roll with distinction, 14 were identified as finalists, and five received the Presidential Award For a full list of recipients, visit

Last year, CNCS gave more than $200 million to institutions of higher education, including grants to operate service programs and the Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for college tuition and student loan repayment. CNCS is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curricula. Through these programs, college students serve their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.

CNCS oversees the Community Service Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on factors that include the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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