April 13, 2021
An important new Albion College experiential learning initiative is receiving national recognition as it hits the ground running.
The College has received a $265,000 grant, to be awarded over the next two years, from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support the start-up of the Albion College Community Collaborative (AC3). AC3 is a unique educational “learning laboratory” that will serve local community-based, regional and national partner organizations, from nonprofit agencies to government offices to small enterprises.
In collaborating with organizations to frame their needs into projects, and provide project deliverables, AC3 will help the organizations to enhance their missions, support current and future provision of services, foster overall success, and help the community to thrive. Projects will be conducted by student-based teams under the coaching and mentorship of specially qualified and trained faculty and staff.
The Albion College Community Collaborative is co-directed by Dr. Vicki Baker, professor of economics and management, and Dr. Mathew Johnson, president of Albion College.
“Active and engaged learning as a complement to classroom coursework has been shown to not only better prepare students for a job after graduation, it immensely enhances their educational experience while they are still students,” said President Johnson, an internationally recognized voice in higher education community engagement as a leader of the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement.
“This goes beyond internships, which will always be a crucial component of student success,” President Johnson continued. “Opportunities for students to directly connect with their community, through tangible projects that utilize their emerging skills and expertise, add a sense of purpose to learning that only becomes evident once action is taken. This important grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations will enable Albion College, AC3 and the Albion community to act and engage more deeply, in richer and more rewarding ways.”
The Collaborative officially launched earlier in the Spring 2021 semester. It will open formally to the public in Fall 2021 in the renovated historic building at 207 S. Superior St. in downtown Albion. This donor-supported renovation of the building’s interior will add state-of-the-art technology in the space.
“This grant will help us create the heart of the experiential learning lab,” said Baker, referring to the students of AC3 and the consulting projects they will be able to undertake. “This includes resources for the student participants and the faculty and staff who will mentor and guide them. But the funds also support those intangibles, like the ability for students to take ownership of their dedicated space and immerse themselves in a professional work setting.
“This is not a typical classroom environment or experience, and we need a space and infrastructure to support that vision,” added Baker, who directs the academic components of AC3. “The funds help AC3 become an actual ‘thing’ that students and community organizations can see, engage with and benefit from. I am excited about what we will be able to accomplish as a result.
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations’ grant is its third to the College since 2000. The Foundations are supported by trusts established by Arthur Vining Davis, a Florida industrialist-turned-land developer and philanthropist who led the growth of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in the first half of the 20th century. Today, the Foundations support “colleges and universities that prioritize undergraduate education and emphasize the liberal arts” through its longstanding Private Higher Education grant program. One of the Private Higher Education program’s current focuses, Purpose-Oriented Education, seeks initiatives that “develop courses or curricula that provide opportunities for students to discover and develop a sense of purpose concerning their education, their eventual occupations, and their roles as citizens.”
Albion College is a private liberal arts college of approximately 1,500 students and is nationally recognized for its academic excellence in the liberal arts tradition, a learning-centered commitment, and a future-oriented perspective. The College is a leader in preparing students to anticipate, solve, and prevent problems in order to improve the human and global condition. Albion immerses students in the creation and processing of knowledge, and graduates skilled architects of societal change, active citizens, and future leaders. The College is dedicated to the highest quality in undergraduate education and is committed to diversity as a core institutional value.
Albion, Michigan, is a culturally diverse community in the south-central part of the state. The College recognizes the value of community, both on- and off-campus, and has invested resources in supporting the revitalization of the greater Albion community. This work offers an increasingly vibrant city around the campus that provides students with a fuller experience as they prepare to become engaged citizens in their own communities.