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September 05, 2023 | Shannon Smith

ETSU issues new ‘Go Beyond the Classroom’ mini-grants to impact students, communities

“Go Beyond the Classroom” mini-grants are intended for faculty and staff use to provide funding for a range of items to enhance or expand community-engaged learning at ETSU.

Creating simulations that train nurses to perform medical procedures, teaching gardening and nutrition to local elementary school students, and preparing tax returns for community members are just a few examples of opportunities that are available for East Tennessee State University (ETSU) students to get hands-on experience while making a positive impact on the region.

These experiences are among five initiatives that will receive ETSU’s inaugural “Go Beyond the Classroom mini-grants, designed to enhance and expand community-engaged learning in courses, programs, and co-curricular experiences.

“Community-engaged learning provides the opportunity for our students to make connections between their academic course content and current needs and opportunities in the community,” said Dr. Susan McCracken, Vice Provost for Community Engagement. “Students do not have to wait until they graduate to make a difference in their communities.”

“There are many opportunities for them to connect, influence, and contribute while they are students, and ETSU is committed to helping them realize the potential and possibilities.”

Go Beyond the Classroom mini-grants are intended for faculty and staff use to provide funding for a range of items to enhance or expand community-engaged learning at ETSU.

“The inaugural grant recipients span a variety of academic programs and community partners,” McCracken. “We are excited to see the impact of these initiatives on our students and our region.”

The five 2023 grant recipients include:

  • 7-ETCH VR Production: This grant will allow students in ETSU’s Digital Media and Computer Science programs to work with the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville to create fully customizable simulations to train nurses and other medical professionals to perform medical procedures.
  • Community connection through Speedway Charities: This project will be a team-based approach within the ETSU Sport and Recreation Management (SARM) program, in collaboration with the director of Bristol Motor Speedway’s Speedway Children’s Charities, to create a new elective course focused on “cause marketing” strategies in non-profit sport and sport corporate social responsibility.
  • Garden in a Box: The Garden in a Box initiative aims to promote community engagement by teaching gardening and nutrition at elementary and middle schools, fostering healthy attitudes and habits around nutritious foods, teaching food origins, and increasing physical activity.
  • SPARK: Student Participation in Community-Engaged Service, Research, and Internships: The History SPARK program is a collaborative cohort experience designed to increase the number of history majors participating in community-engaged service, research, and internships relevant to the practice of history.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): ETSU Accounting students will use their knowledge learned in income tax and business courses to engage with community taxpayers and prepare their tax returns. Students will develop critical thinking and technology skills using real-life tax problems to prepare returns.

For more information about these initiatives, click here.

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