Improving Cradle to Career Education Through Community Engagement This press release was created by the Maryland-DC Campus Compact with content contributed by Gallaudet University. "Together we will move the needle on cradle to career education and opportunity," said Madeline Yates, Executive Director of the Maryland-DC Campus Compact (MDCCC), the region's largest higher education association. On Wednesday, October 30, more than 20 presidents, chancellors, and executive leaders of the Maryland-D.C. region convened to discuss collectively improving education for youth from cradle to career. Nearly 300 higher education, K-12, business, non-profit, government, and community partners engaged in dialogue about how communities can work together to make advancements through education, particularly high school completion, college access, and college completion. This marked the largest collective impact discussion leaders in the region have undertaken, according to MDCCC. MDCCC is the region's largest higher education association, comprised of presidents of 30 colleges and universities. This year's Presidents' Institute celebrated the inauguration of a broad collective impact initiative called CONNECTS: Communities Organizing Networks Now to Engage Citizens Through Service. By working toward a set of common goals, this partnership aims to increase student success from cradle to career and yield improved education and community outcomes. CONNECTS will create and enhance student learning through service at both the college and K-12 level. Keynote presentations by Dr. Sonja Santelises, a Vice President of K-12 Policy and Practice for the Education Trust (formerly Chief Academic Officer for Baltimore Public Schools); Abigail Smith, Deputy Mayor for Education for Washington, D.C.; and Joe Jones, CEO of the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore, called for the higher education network to commit to elevating communities. "At Gallaudet University, we believe that cross-cultural learning, study abroad, and community service are important components of a quality liberal arts education," said President T. Alan Hurwitz. "Our education philosophy is that providing knowledge of global concerns and instilling respect for different cultures and groups will help cultivate values that will last a lifetime and make our students productive and responsible citizens of the world." To this end, several Gallaudet students within the Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics took part in a summer internship program where they monitored and tested the water quality of the Anacostia River, which flows from Prince George's County, Md. to Washington, D.C. The goal of the project is to study the health of the river and the effects of humans on its ecosystem. Internationally, since 2009, approximately 400 Gallaudet students have participated in the First Year Study Tour (FYST). The one-credit study abroad course to Costa Rica is for freshmen and first year transfer students and introduces them to global citizenship, international service learning, and international travel. The study tour enhances five core learning outcomes of the General Studies curriculum: language and communication, critical thinking, identity and culture, knowledge and inquiry, and ethics and social responsibility. FYST activities include service learning exercises such as beach clean-up, assisting with sea turtle conservancy, and community service activities at two schools for deaf students, Escuela Para Niños Sordos de Cartago and Centro Nacional de Educacion Especial. Gallaudet's Department of Social Work is actively involved in community engagement efforts in Guatemala. Last summer, the department offered its third study abroad class to the Central American country. The study tour focused on social work and deaf education. The group toured four deaf schools, and volunteered at a new school for deaf children, Las Voces del Silencio (LAVOSI), an orphanage (Hogar Rafael Ayau), a child poverty program (Fotokids), a Mayan women's weaving cooperative (TRAMA), and the Guatemalan National Association of the Deaf (ASORGUA). While at LAVOSI, the Gallaudet students donated laptop computers, a projector, as well as athletic shoes and uniforms to the school's sports teams. Currently, a group of Master's of Social Work (MSW) students is doing a fundraising project to collect $6,000 to hire two more teachers at LAVOSI because the school only has a budget to pay one teacher to educate for all 23 students, ranging in age from six to 26. The MSW students believe strongly that paid teachers will lead to an increase in access to quality education for the deaf children at the school. Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world. MDCCC is a consortium of higher education institutions committed to collaboratively addressing local and global community issues through student service, civic engagement, academically based service-learning, and campus-community partnerships. For more information about MDCCC or the Presidents' Institute, call 301.696.3280 or visit us at www.mdccc.org.