The Institute for Service-Learning was established in 2001 with an endowment from Trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband, Bill Johnston to honor her grandmother, Mary Jane Underwood Stryker.
Since its founding, the Institute for Service-Learning, through service-learning courses and student-led programs, has engaged over 5500 K College students in long-term, reciprocal partnerships to foster academic learning, critical problem-solving, and a lifetime of civic engagement while strengthening the community. They have worked with thousands of community residents, over 50 different organizations, and in more than 30 different community-based courses. In academic year 2010-2011, about 40% (552 total) of K students worked in our service-learning partnerships, contributing over 32,000 hours to diverse initiatives that “… promote a more just, equitable and sustainable world” (from our Mission Statement, 2001).
About two thirds of Kalamazoo College students work in the community every year, most through service-learning courses. Also, students earn minimum wage through federal work-study, or work as “volunteers” committing at least two hours per week throughout the term. In academic year 2010-2011, 197 "K" students earned contributed almost 10,000 hours through their federal work-study placements. Our co-curricular programs are coordinated (and frequently designed) by “K” student leaders, who hold Underwood Stryker Institute Civic Engagement Scholarships.
Critical thinking and activism makes these co-curricular service-learning experiences a vital part of the “K Plan.” These programs both benefit from and provide scaffolding for other elements of the K Plan, especially the Senior Individualized Project (SIP) and Integrative Cultural Research Project (ICRP, on study abroad), which complement and/or cap outstanding community-based learning experiences that span the four years of a Kalamazoo College education. Increasingly, thanks to endowed scholarships, students are also able to weave into their K Plans experiences like summer community-based research, internships and externships that focus on social justice and community change.