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Columbia Missourian

UMKC lands top prize for community service efforts

By The Associated Press
February 17, 2009 | 5:47 p.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — The University of Missouri-Kansas City's outreach to disadvantaged youths has landed it the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for volunteer service and civic engagement.

The university was one of three schools nationally to receive the top honor from the Corporation for National and Community Service last week. The others were Duke University in Durham, N.C., and Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch, Texas.

"This award is a great honor and a confirmation that we continue to measure up to our long-standing commitment to community service," said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton.

It is the third straight year the school has been recognized by the organization, but it's the first time it has received the top award.

Four projects — two that provide dental treatment and education to low-income children, one that helps promote careers in science and medicine among minority and low-income middle-school students, and one that educates students about childhood obesity — were highlighted as reasons the university received the award.

Overall, the university has 14 programs designed to help Kansas City's youth populations. Just over 2,900 of its 14,442 students are involved in community service or academic service projects, the school says.

"We are not only contributing to the work force, but we also are graduating students who will contribute to their community through service," said Sandra Jenkins, associate vice chancellor for community and public affairs.

The award program is sponsored by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, and the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development.

The Corporation for National and Community Service's acting chief executive officer, Nicola Goren, said volunteers are especially important during difficult times.

"College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges," she said.