2020 Engaged Campus Award Recipients

In order to spotlight great projects, partnerships, and programs, we accept nominations for the following selective award categories. Nominations for these awards are reviewed and scored by outside reviewers. See below for this year’s awardees, organized by award. Find Iowa awardees here.

A recent project, program, or initiative making unique and innovative contributions that demonstrate strong future potential, including student-led projects.

Mobilize Mac, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN

“Mobilize Mac” coordinates Macalester’s public and democratic engagement around key events such as caucuses, primaries, elections, and the census that are vital to ensuring a strong democracy and participation in public life.

Originally named “Mac the Vote,” Macalester’s Civic Engagement Center began to coordinate this broad campus initiative in Spring 2016 in the months before the national election.  “Mac the Vote” brought together student leaders, student affairs and academic staff, faculty members, and administrators to support institution-wide democratic engagement and civic learning, dialogue, and action.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, campus leaders met regularly to coordinate and implement voter registration drives and debate-watching events, plan campus speakers on the elections and democracy,  support classes with civic engagement components, and  plan campus and community art exhibits, poster presentations, and and library displays on themes of voting, democracy, and our shared public life.  Macalester students participated in community voter registration drives and “get out the vote” activities as part of classes and co-curricular activities. On election day, “Mac the Vote” hosted a day-long voting celebration in the campus center to turn out the vote and raise awareness of the election as a public responsibility. Throughout the day, the initiative coordinated voting parades to the neighborhood polling place used by students living on campus and many staff and faculty. The celebratory parades were led by campus leaders and highlighted the community aspects of democratic participation while lessening barriers for first-time voters.

After the election, the group coordinated post-election responses and programming, highlighted by two days of campus-wide “community conversations” at the start of the second semester in Spring 2017, which coincided with the Presidential inauguration. The community conversations days, led by faculty and staff, engaged the social, environmental, and political questions facing the nation, and created spaces for reflection and for conversation across differences. The sessions began with an all-campus gathering. Professors opened up their classes to the campus to provide discipline-specific perspectives on issues raised by the election, and staff offered skill-based workshops.

Leading into the 2018 midterm elections, “Mac the Vote” evolved into “Mobilize Mac.” With this change “Mobilize Mac” broadened its scope of work to coordinate a series of trainings on community organizing and advocacy and informational sessions on how to caucus and vote in primaries and midterms.  Mobilize Mac coordinated institution-wide planning to increase participation in the census by all members of the Macalester community.  The Civic Engagement Center partnered with the Macalester Library and the Political Science Department to sponsor a session on the census for Constitution Day.

As Macalester plans for the 2020 national election, Mobilize Mac has coordinated broader campus planning around the election by hosting regular meetings of staff, faculty, and student leaders.  One distinctive opportunity, “Democracy in Action,” will allow students to earn academic credit for community-based political engagement and participation in an academic seminar.  Guided by a steering committee, the seminar will support students to reflect on their engagement experience and connect their political activities to broader questions of democracy and their own values and commitments. Mobilize Mac will continue to play an institution-wide leadership role to plan activities on election day and guide campus reflection and activities after the election.

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Student Senate, South Central College, North Mankato and Faribault, MN

The Student Senates in North Mankato and Faribault constructed a Civic Engagement Action plan to coordinate additional involvement with the Census and Voter Registration. This action plan enlists departments across the college, including Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Students to engage them in education regarding upcoming civic responsibilities. This action plan consists of multiple efforts such as marketing materials, syllabus statements, educational sessions, and social norming; which is intended to assist in the mobilization of all students.

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A collaboration co-created with community organizations, leaders, and/or partners that is deep, reciprocal, and transformational.

Create CommUNITY, St. Cloud, MN, Nominated by the College of Saint Benedict President, St. Cloud State University President, and Saint John’s University

Create CommUNITY is a grass-roots community movement that was started in the office of the Mayor in St. Cloud, Minnesota over 20 years ago; then known as the Mayor’s Racial Harmony Team. Over the years, the organization changed its name, honed its mission, vision, and membership. The Create CommUNITY mission is Dismantling Racism through Systemic Change. Their vision is to provide a welcoming, anti-discriminatory environment with respect and opportunity for all. The board is composed of residents, leaders in education, business, industry, and faith communities.

Currently, Create CommUNITY focuses on three areas of work: educational attainment; health care access; and housing access. This organization has not only provided a forum for enhancing outcomes in these focus areas, but they have also, for the past 14 years, organized an Annual Conversation on Race. This event, like their mission and vision, is focused on bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to have intentional conversations around key issues to facilitate transformational change for individuals and institutions in a safe and supportive environment.

The Annual Conversation on Race brings our community together in a new way, forming a new community tradition that attracts between 250-600+ diverse participants each year. This event remains a staple in the region for listening, learning, understanding and expanding hearts and minds-creating a healthier, more welcoming community.

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An Iowa or Minnesota business nominated by a member institution for its commitment to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement in community.

MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership, West Central Minnesota, Nominated by Minnesota State Community and Technical College

MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership helps people and changes lives by living up to its three organizational values: community-minded, client-focused, and resourceful. A community action agency in West Central Minnesota, its governing board is made up of one-third elected officials, one-third low-income representatives, and one-third community-based organizations.

The organization has been part of a national pilot program over the past two years to convert its suite of services into an integrated service model using a Whole Family Approach as it delivers early childhood, housing/homeless, energy, senior services, family planning, and related programs. By working closely with a network of community organizations, MAHUBE-OTWA works to add rungs to the ladders of upward mobility for each of their 16,000 clients each year. The organization recognizes and models for others that this work must be grounded in equity, family voice, and trauma-informed service delivery. By focusing on strengths and intentional relationship-building and leveraging community resources, MAHUBE-OTWA meets families where they are and supports them to move to where they dream of being.

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An alum of a member institution making strong contributions to their community and demonstrating the values of the civic mission of higher education.

Jennifer Tacheny, ‘95 Alumni of College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, MN

Jennifer Tacheny graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1995. She has her M.A. in Pastoral Ministry and two decades of experience in religious studies, social justice, and spirituality education. Jennifer Tacheny is Co-Director of Young Adult Spirituality programming with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ) in Saint Paul. She coordinates mission engagement projects including the Community Garden and Saint Catherine University Food Shelf and is a mentor to Community Leader Interns at Saint Catherine University. Jennifer is Co-Chair for the CSJ Relationship and Association Commission, Justice Commission, and the Earth Partners Working Group. She is also a member of the Partners in Justice granting board. Central to her work is the CSJ mission/charism: loving God and neighbor without distinction and engaging others in extending the mission into the future.

Jennifer is a great advocate for food justice, justice in general, and can quote the mystics, of which Julian of Norwich is her favorite. Jennifer and her husband Steven run an organic vegetable business on their family farm and enjoy playing music with their three children and for the community.

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Rep. Samantha Vang (40B), ‘16 Alumni of Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, MN

Rep. Samantha Vang (40B), a 2016 graduate of Gustavus, is a first-term member of the Minnesota House who represents Brooklyn Center. She serves as the inaugural chair of the Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus. In the Minnesota House, she is the vice chair of the property and local tax division and also sits on the agriculture and food finance and policy division, capital investment division, and higher education finance and policy division. As a Gustavus undergrad, Vang won a Gilman Scholarship and studied abroad in Japan for the 2014-2015 academic year. As a representative, she regularly meets with undergraduate students and classes that visit the Minnesota State Capitol. Vang represents the values of civic engagement by taking her education as a political science and communication studies major and applying it to issues of justice and inclusion for Hmong and other Asian Pacific Populations and the citizens of Brooklyn Park. To be elected as such a young professional speaks volumes to her ability to connect with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and build collaborative relationships.

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