Federal Work-Study Program
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington Community Service in the Federal Work-Study Program
UNCW Financial Aid Office Mark S. Williams Royce G. Morse
The Philosophy of the Federal Work-Study Community Service Program
The Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP) is a need-based program that provides part-time employment for college students who need the income to help them meet their educational expenses. It also encourages students to participate in community service learning opportunities; the educational institution receives a certain amount of federal funding for Federal Work-Study students, at least 5% of which must be used for community service jobs. The program attempts to address the needs of the students, the community and the institution in such a way as to benefit all three.
Students. The program recognizes that many students need supplemental income to meet their cost of attending college. In the past, students had to take part-time jobs that took them out of the educational environment and placed the demand of conflicting priorities on them. The Federal Work-Study Program affords these students the opportunity to further their educational progress while defraying their college expenses. Further, it exposes the students to real-life working experiences in a sector where their contributions matter. Ideally, community service instills a sense of community spirit and social responsibility in the students participating in the program. Students generally have a choice of employment options, and are able to select a job which most closely contributes to their long-range educational and professional goals.
Community. In many areas, there are not enough trained individuals available to work in community service positions. This is due to several factors, among them reductions in funding of services previously providedby various governmental agencies. The FWSP puts many qualified, enthusiastic individuals into significant community service jobs at reduced or even no cost to the participating community agencies, thus utilizing an untapped resource, the student body.
Institution Involvement in community service helps position the educational institution in a leadership role within the community it serves. It further positions the college in the eyes of the general public as playing a concerned and involved role in the community. Having a reputation for community responsibility will attract more grassroots support within the community itself, increase the public's awareness of and respect for the university, and may even increase enrollment; and demonstrated excellence in FWSP community service will result in governmental support of its programs.
Further, learning opportunities afforded to children through their contact with FWSP such as the America Reads Challenge will improve the educational level of the pool of potential university students, increasing the overall academic performance of future generations of students.
FWSP Practices There are a number of Federal Regulations governing the administration of a Federal Work-Study Program. The program is need-based, meaning the student's Cost of Attendance(1) must exceed the Expected Family Contribution(2); however, students with exceptional financial need do not have priority for FWSP jobs. The institution determines the amount of the FWSP award each student may receive. Partnering agencies enter into a contract with the institution, which addresses, among other things, who the employer is (either the agency or the institution) and who is responsible for paperwork, Social Security, matching funds, training and supervision.
A school must spend at least 5% of its Federal Work-Study allocation on community service jobs unless the U.S. Department of Education grants it a waiver. These community service jobs do not necessarily need to be off-campus; however, the service provided must be available to the whole community and not just the university community. On-campus community service might include a child-care program, tutoring center, etc. If the university does not have enough community service jobs for students wanting to participate, other potential employers must be located; this can be accomplished by various marketing strategies.
Certain kinds of not-for-profit organizations are excluded from being FWSP agencies: these include organizations whose membership is limited; most political organizations whose functions are campaigning, lobbying or other partisan activity; churches, unless the work being performed is strictly non-sectarian and non-religious in nature. In general, however, a non-profit agency performing services for the good of the community is eligible to participate as a FWSP community service partner. Examples are conservation corps programs, such as urban and rural revitalization, wetlands protection, road and trail maintenance, and energy conservation; human services programs, such as law enforcement agencies, nursing homes, literacy programs, and social service organizations; and programs to assist disabled students. A recent clarification to the definition of what qualifies as a community service job allows students to participate in support services for their agency, such as in clerical positions, and not necessarily be on the forefront of service delivery(3).
Students interested in and eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program may select a position from those available which most closely matches their interests and goals. The institution is given certain Federal funds allocated for FWSP; the student is paid 75% from the Federal funds, and 25% from matching funds, usually supplied by the employing agency.
Overall the Federal Work-Study Program provides a win-win-win opportunity for students, the community and the institution by matching the needs to the resources of the various partners.
The Federal Work-Study Program was established with the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 (as amended). The appropriation made to the entire program in that year was $55.7 million. National funding jumped up incrementally in the first ten years of the program, then experienced steady growth, so that by 1994, the appropriation had grown to $616.5 million, an over 1000% increase. The targeted population is college students, both graduate and undergraduate, dependent and independent, who can demonstrate financial need. By 1990, over one-third of full-time low-income students were participating in the program, so it is succeeding in delivering service to its target group(4). Additionally, studies have shown that contrary to popular belief, students who work part-time while in school tend to earn higher grades than students who do not work(5), and, at least in the five years after graduation, students who worked during college earn more money, so the service being delivered is demonstrably positive and valuable. Further, students who work believe that they gain important experience and are more likely to secure employment after graduation(6).
In 1994, the community service aspect of the FWSP became a federal mandate. This required that institutions disbursing Work-Study funds had to allocate a portion of their annual appropriation to development and delivery of community service. For many institutions, this represented a radical departure from their accustomed way of spending their FWSP funds.
UNCW's Historical Involvement with FWSP
During the past ten years, federal funding of UNCW's Federal Work-Study Program had remained stable (see Figure 1). However, with President Clinton's significant emphasis on the FWSP and on community service in particular, and with bipartisan congressional support, funding has increased dramatically for 1997-98. Prior to 1994, most of UNCW's Work-Study funds had been expended within the university community; since that time there has been increased student work-study assignments in community service.
Figure 1. * Projected expenditures
UNCW Addresses Community Service
In its "Expanded Statement of Institutional Mission," the University of North Carolina at Wilmington states:
As the only public university in southeastern North Carolina, this institution bears a special responsibility for education and service. The university is committed to providing lifelong learning opportunities, assisting with the improvement of public school education, and enhancing the personal, cultural, and economic health of the region.... The university shall strive ... to meet the needs of southeastern North Carolina. Fulfilling this mission strengthens the position of the university within the world academic community(7).Given these goals, the Federal Work-Study Community Service program was and is a remarkably good fit for UNCW. In its commitment to learning, the community at large, and public school education, the FWSP maintains the same vision as the university.
UNCW first became involved in the Federal Work-Study Program's community service initiative in 1993 with a single agency. The program started out modestly, and was intended to grow at a managable pace, which it has done (see Figure 2). However, even with this small start, UNCW was regarded within the State of North Carolina as being in the forefront of FWSP community service because we began the program earlier than required by Federal mandate and therefore had more experience with it. Although information and networking resources were necessarily limited for a program this innovative, not only in North Carolina but in other states, a strategic plan was developed and put into action by UNCWís Financial Aid Office; it involved, in part, obtaining names of non-profit agencies in the Wilmington area and contacting them to see if they would be interested in employing Work-Study students. Afterward, a network of community service agencies was developed, and the program began to be known to the extent that UNCW began to be approached by interested agencies.
Figure 2. *Projected expenditures
Although an institution disbursing Federal Work-Study Program funds is required by law to spend at least 5% of its money for community service jobs, UNCW has substantially exceeded requirements, and its commitment to community service is on the increase (see figure 3). This trend may be expected to continue with the advent of the America Reads Challenge, which strongly encourages an unprecedented financial commitment to community service in FWSP; America Reads is discussed in detail later in this report.
Off-Campus Community Service Programs
Brigade Boys and Girls Club The program's stated purpose is "to provide behavioral guidance and promote the social, recreational, cultural, vocational, physical and mental health of youth." A $10.00 membership fee is charged and any girl or boy ages six to 18 may join; services provided to participants include arts and crafts, a variety of sports, computer club, homework help and tutoring, leadership development and youth employment. In addition, a monthly themed program is offered, such as physical fitness, nutrition, crime prevention, etc.
Work-Study students at the Club make certain the children are safe and well cared-for, provide meaningful experiences to them in a variety of interest areas, and ultimately, become good friends with the children, acting as big brothers and sisters. Derrell Clark, the Director of Brigade Boys and Girls Clubs, says he appreciates the Work-Study students, since he can schedule them and oversee their activities because they are employees rather than volunteers. He expects to continue indefinitely with FWSP, and would like to expand his participation to more students. "I can't believe anyone would say 'no' to [employing] a Work-Study student," he says, because they are affordable, hard workers. He added, "College Work-Study people have been life-savers for our organization and our kids, providing life skills these kids need to cope with the world, today and tomorrow."
Heather Benbow is a UNCW student who works at Brigade Boys and Girls Club under Federal Work-Study. She has conducted several programs, including a conflict resolution series for children, coaching sports teams, and helping to start a club newspaper. She says, "I'm going into el[ementary] ed[ucation]; it's given me a good background for my teaching career." She did an ethnographic project for one of her UNCW classes by analyzing the writings of a child whose family was in crisis. She is convinced that by writing down his experiences, the child helped vent his emotions.
Heather summarizes her feelings about community service by saying, "I think it gives an opportunity for UNCW students to get out and work towards their educations."
Coalition of Success This agency provides tutoring services, advice, role-modeling and enriching experiences for children of public housing. A tutor is expected to give one or two hours per week to a student, with flexible hours, and act as role model and motivator. Helen Hendricks, Volunteer Coordinator of Coalition of Success, has had much success with FWSP students who tutor children in preschool through the fifth grade in reading and math. An important side benefit, she notes, is that the FWS students'; positive attitudes rub off on the children they tutor. She says, "If we didn't have Work-Study, our program wouldn't be as successful as it is, because they [the Work-Study students] contribute so much."
Work-Study student Sarah Perry worked at Coalition of Success and expects to return. An accounting major, her experiences there have enriched her life. She noted she acted not only as a tutor to the children there, but as a role model, someone they could count on and look to for attention. Her experiences, she adds, "brought to my attention how much some kids lack love and attention; I got to see how other kids live." She felt her involvement with them helped them at school, and has enthusiastically recommended the program to several other UNCW students.
Communities in Schools (CIS) This is a non-profit organization that provides mentoring and tutoring to New Hanover County public school students, both at elementary and high school levels. CIS's goals are to improve school attendance and academic performance, enhance personal and educational development, increase parental involvement, and develop successful attitudes that will translate into marketable skills. The 1997-98 school year marks the first year for CIS and UNCW to partner in community service; UNCW has committed FWSP students to the CIS tutoring program as part of the America Reads initiative.
Jerry Randall, the Executive Director of Communities in Schools, expects Work-Study students to participate in a great deal of one-on-one tutoring with elementary age students through the "Great Leaps" program; he believes the experience will "enhance their people skills as well as helping the kids."
Community Boys and Girls Club Any boy or girl ages six to 18 may join for $10.00. Summer programs are offered at $45.00 for the first child, and $15.00 each additional child from the same family. Programs offered include basketball leagues for all ages, homework assistance, computer lab, arts and crafts, chorus, Black History month, and teen discussion of important issues such as drug abuse, career planning, and family living skills.
The Club is located in an area of high need, and provides services to children of working parents from eight public housing areas. The club is open after school and all day during the summer, times when parents need this service most.
Family Services After-School EnrichmentThis program offers prevention programs for at-risk children, ages five to fourteen. It provides early intervention to reduce juvenile delinquency by offering social and academic alternatives. The programs are conducted at various sites throughout the Wilmington area and include "Sing, Spell, Read, Write," a literacy through phonics program; vocational exploration; one-on-one tutoring; help with homework; outings; arts and crafts; athletics; and computer training. The programs serve 300 students a year, all of whom are referred by parents, teachers, the courts, the Department of Social Services and other public service organizations.
Director Daryl Dockery believes that Work-Study students have been an enormous help to the program, becoming totally involved with the program and the children, who tend to come from single-parent families and who often have a record of poor academic achievement. The Work-Study students do behavioral assessments, help students improve academically, coach them in sports, and conduct other activities. He adds that he can take a UNCW student from any major study area and utilize their skills in education, sociology, law enforcement, physical education, and so on.
Dockery says, "It's a learning experience, not only for the kids but for the Work-Study students." The FWSP students learn about themselves and the children they work with, and the children have their horizons broadened in an unexpected way; some of them have realized through contact with UNCW students that high school need not be the end of their educations, that they, too, can attend college.
Family Services' Big Buddy Program The Big Buddy Program provides mentoring that pairs adult volunteers with children. FWS students work with adult volunteers, participate in training, and do a variety of clerical and administrative tasks. Students who are on a social work educational track at UNCW work with the children individually and in groups. Sid Bradsher, Director of Family Services, says he has had very good experiences with UNCW work-study students, because "they are well-trained and mature." The Big Buddy Program tends to "be strapped for funds" and the FWSP community service students provide a valuable resource. He remarks that the community service experience is good for the students, because it requires that they work a certain number of hours each week under specific rules. The students become accustomed to functioning in a work setting, preparing themselves for life after college. Bradsher concludes, "It's helped us out considerably -- an excellent program that has been very helpful."
North Fourth Street Partnership, Inc This is a not-for-profit organization established within the City of Wilmington to promote revitalization of an inner city business district by encouraging new businesses and creating jobs. Work-Study students participate in developing and implementing public relations programs, a business plan and property inventory for the area. An important project being developed by North Fourth Street Partnership is a community supermarket, which will provide a needed neighborhood grocery offering competitive prices. Director Bolton Anthony says that Work-Study students at North Fourth Street Partnership get exposure to real life, and learn a lot about the dynamics within this particular minority community.
Watson School of Education America Reads Tutoring Initiative This program focuses on tutoring elementary school students to read as part of President Clinton's America Reads Challenge; the UNCW students go to the elementary schools to conduct tutoring sessions. A training course is mandatory before Work-Study students begin their tutoring assignment. Dr. Ann Lockledge, one of the Faculty Coordinators for the America Reads tutoring program, states that training will be provided to help tutors develop not only tutoring skills but skills in relating to students in light of their current home and social situations. Additionally, UNCW hopes to work with a local Retired Teachers Association to provide on-site tutor coaching and monitoring by experienced professional teachers; these volunteers would help tutors refine their techniques, find ways to deal with difficult students, and so on.
If students keep journals which detail and reflect on what they are learning in their community service positions, they may be offered college credit.
Dr. Lockledge adds, "UNCW has a lot of trust built up with the public schools ... this is a way of reaching out [to the community]."
On-Campus Community Service Programs
UNCW Ed Lab Located in King Hall, the Ed Lab gives UNCW Work-Study students the opportunity to work with children in kindergarten through ninth grade, tutoring in reading, writing and mathematics. It is the goal of the Ed Lab to furnish a nourishing learning environment which fosters the childís self esteem. There is a $75 fee for an assessment; twenty reading tutoring sessions cost $150 and ten math tutoring sessions cost $75. However, the Ed Lab is a non-profit program; revenues are used to defray expenses. Education students participating in the Ed Lab receive experience in their major field and preparation for entry into the teaching profession.
Dr. Hathia Hayes, former Director of the Ed Lab, says of her experiences with FWSP community service, "It's a treasured resource." She adds that students who choose community service as their Work-Study option are committed and interested in what they are doing, they get the opportunity to do educational activities, and they get far ahead of the learning curve in their careers in education because of their experiences in the Ed Lab. And Work-Study students have helped to model the professional environment at the lab. Dr. Hayes concludes, "Excellence in teaching develops when the heart opens, the head envisions learning, and the hands help. The FWSP has supported the Ed Lab by enriching the learning opportunities for children, their tutors, and their families. We appreciate and value that support."
Students appreciate the scheduling flexibility afforded them by working in the Ed Lab. Former community service Work-Study student Tracey King says, "It worked out perfectly. And I was surrounded by teachers -- I learned a lot being in an education setting." She observed that while some children came for learning enrichment and some came for remedial help, the one-on-one child-tutor situation gave them all more confidence about learning. She concludes, "My experience was just wonderful. I just hope if other schools are going to do [community service] that it turns out half as good as UNCW's program."
UNCW Library The UNCW Library is open and available to the general public, and therefore qualifies as community service employment for UNCW students working there. It employs a number of Work-Study students to shelve and organize books and operate the circulation desk. Sal Ingrassia, a FWSP student, is returning to the UNCW Library for his fourth year, even though he no longer participates as a Work-Study student. "It's something that I never thought of doing," he says of his first involvement there; however, he liked the convenience of working on campus, the nature of the work, the people there, and the flexibility of his work schedule. Sal notes that many people from the community use the library, particularly on weekends; many come for recreation, to read newspapers and magazines or rent videos, but many people use the law section to do personal research or to investigate the purchase of real estate. Sal concludes, "It's a great opportunity -- the jobs are very rewarding."
UNCW Volunteers The UNCW Volunteers program has been in operation since 1988. However, the 1997-98 year will be its first involvement with the Federal Work-Study Program in community service. The Volunteers program is part of a leadership development program that addresses leadership for a purpose -- people working together to improve society. It is the mission of the Volunteers program to instill service as a lifetime habit as well as actually providing service to the members of the community.
Each year, the UNCW Volunteers program selects four or five agencies and directs most of its volunteer efforts toward these agencies; as Cathy Birmingham, the Director of the program notes, "Need far outstrips availability of volunteers, so the most benefit can be derived by looking for good programs in the community and focusing on a few." Agencies that provide literacy services for children have been targeted heavily.
The new FWS students will be responsible for recruiting student volunteers and working with them to make certain the volunteer experience is rewarding for them. Ms. Birmingham says, "I'm excited that we're being allowed to use Federal Work-Study. The students who work in these kinds of positions have a wonderful learning opportunity -- it's very meaningful work, more than just a paycheck."
America Reads Challenge
In 1994, it was determined that a full 40% of American fourth graders had not attained the appropriate basic reading level. Research indicates that if students cannot read at grade level by the end of the third grade, their chances for success in school and beyond are greatly reduced and they have a much greater likelihood of dropping out of school and engaging in delinquent behavior than students who can read well8.
To address this serious but remediable problem, President Clinton introduced the America Reads initiative earlier this year; at present, the "America Reads Challenge Act of 1997" is before the U.S. Congress for consideration. Submitted by the U.S. Department of Education, it would provide $1.725 billion in mandatory funds in the period of 1998 through 2002 to the Department of Education to promote literacy in elementary school children. The program is an ambitious one; it aims to involve people in all sectors and of all ages in helping young children to read better. The Presidentís goal is to enlist over 1,000,000 volunteer reading tutors. There are several federal programs that will aid in supporting the America Reads Challenge; the Federal Work-Study Program is one of them.
Of the 1,000,000 tutoring volunteers the President hopes to develop, 10%, or 100,000 are expected to be Federal Work-Study students. As of May, 1997, 174 colleges and universities had committed themselves to the America Reads Challenge. The President has asked that participating institutions commit at least 50% of their new Work-Study funds to students tutoring elementary school students to read.
The President has made no mandates for the way in which colleges can meet the America Reads Challenge. Each participating institution is approaching the program in a way that suits it, and the community it serves, best, and makes best use of resources and already-developed reading tutoring programs.
To encourage expanded participation in America Reads, the traditional 25% matching fund contribution for Federal Work-Study Programs has been waived for college students involved in America Reads tutoring programs; federal funding is provided to absorb a full 100% of that cost.
The America Reads initiative is far-reaching; it seeks to involve parents, teachers, principals, libraries, business and community groups. This is designed to have a synergistic effect, so that everyone a child has contact with supports the reading effort, and the child will be actively encouraged and helped to read at home and at school, as well as by college student tutors.
Many institutions which have made a commitment to the America Reads Challenge are now selecting students and developing tutor training programs, so that the program can begin in Fall, 1997. An effort is being made by some colleges to fully develop and integrate their existing tutoring programs into the America Reads Program, while others are working at building entirely new plans to meet the challenge.
UNCW and the America Reads Program
Eight of the sixteen University of North Carolina System institutions have signed onto the American Reads Challenge; UNCW was one of the first, enthusiastically supporting the America Reads Program and setting ambitious goals for meeting its commitment. By September, 1998, our goal is a 100% increase in the number of Work-Study students involved in tutoring pre-school and elementary age children to read, and a 100% increase in the number of other undergraduate and graduate students involved in tutoring, from 10% of the student body currently, to a projected 20%. Further, a 500% increase in funding for reading tutors is planned for the next five years, and a full 50% of the student body is projected to participate in reading tutoring at the end of the five-year period. Finally, President Clinton's challenge involves a pledge that 50% of any new Work-Study funds be reserved for America Reads; UNCW plans to meet this challenge beginning in 1997-98.
Recognizing that such programs must be supported at the highest level within the university, the UNCW Chancellor's Office has also pledged its continuing support of work-study students, staff, faculty, financial aid officials, and others who hold leadership positions within the America Reads Program. Although the America Reads Program is new, UNCWís commitment to tutoring programs is not. Since 1993, the majority of our community service efforts through the FWSP have had a strong focus on literacy. Current UNCW strategies focus on further development and broadening of well-established, successful reading programs: The Chancellor encourages student Greek organizations to adopt America Reads as their primary community service activity, and is expanding tutoring opportunities for children in foster care through UNCW's Leadership Center.
However, the main thrust of UNCW's response to the America Reads Challenge has been through the Watson School of Education. The school's existing tutoring program has been expanded by adding twenty FWSP students to tutor elementary school children to read. These tutors need not be education majors; training is provided by the School of Education to any FWSP student wanting to participate. Once trained, the students travel to the public schools to tutor. Tutors will work approximately ten hours a week and, as incentive to FWSP students to come aboard, a higher than usual hourly rate and the possibility of an hour of college credit are offered to those participating.
The Long Term
With Federal Work-Study funds allocations to UNCW on the rise, and the America Reads Challenge projected into the next millennium, plans should be laid now for the future. President Clinton is extremely supportive of the Federal Work-Study Program, and seeks to solidify his commitment with the America Reads Challenge and other initiatives by signing them into law. With the support of the UNCW's Chancellor the university is greatly broadening its Federal Work-Study Program, particularly with community service elementary education tutoring programs in reading. As UNCW enters the 21st century, it continues to grow with the community, maturing, and taking an even more active leadership role in improving the quality of life for the people of southeastern North Carolina.
For additional information, contact:
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
- Mr. Mark Williams, Director of Financial Aid, UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; telephone 910.962.3176
- Ms. Melissa Klingensmith, Community Service Coordinator, UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; telephone 910.962.4084
- Mr. Derrell Clark, Director, Brigade Boys and Girls Club, 2759 Vance Street, Wilmington, NC 28412; telephone 910.791.4282
- Mr. Ken Hendricks, President, Coalition of Success, 2011 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington, NC 28401; telephone 910.763.8201
- Mr. Jerry Randall, Executive Director, Communities in Schools, One Estell Lee Place, Wilmington, NC 28401; telephone 910.762.2611
- Mr. Rodney Ford, Director, Community Boys and Girls Club, 901 Nixon Street, Wilmington, NC 28401; telephone 910.762.1252
- Mr. Daryl Dockery, Director, Family Services After-School Enrichment, 4014 Shipyard Boulevard, Wilmington, NC 28402; telephone 910.343.8681
- Mr. Sid Bradsher, Director, Family Services Big Buddy, 4014 Shipyard Boulevard, Wilmington, NC 28402; telephone 910.392.7051
- Mr. Bolton Anthony, Director, North Fourth Street Partnership, 724 North 4th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401; telephone 910.251.0731
- Dr. Brad Walker or Dr. Maryann Lockledge, Watson School of Education America Reads Initiative, UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; telephone 910.962.3360
- Dr. Ann Crawford, Director, Ed Lab, UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; telephone 910.962.3633
- Ms. Cathy Birmingham, Associate Director, UNCW Volunteers, UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; telephone 910.962.3827
- Mr. Sherman Hayes, Director, UNCW Randall Library, UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; telephone 910.962.3270