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Rice University Center for Civic Leadership

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Outreach Day is day one, not one day, of service for Rice freshmen

Aug. 24, 2015

This Saturday's annual O-Week community service event Outreach Day focused for the first time on a single issue - hunger and food insecurity in Houston. New freshman students were given the opportunity to learn more about Houston through service and community engagement, and to meet the many people and organizations working to achieve food security in Houston. Student volunteers worked with the Houston Food Bank, Stop Hunger Now, Neighborhood Enrichment Exchange, and Target Hunger. Service projects included packing meals for distribution and doing community garden work.

Through Outreach Day, the CCL encourages new students to become involved with a social issue that they are passionate about.  Students are introduced to partner organizations, and have the opportunity to work with them throughout their four years as a student at Rice. In turn, partners are able to build relationships with students interested in addressing specific social issues through service.

See photos from this year's event here.

Read about Outreach Day in Rice News, and in The Rice Thresher.

Rice postdoctoral fellow highlights experiences of Houston refugees for Rich Endowment project

Aug. 11, 2015

The Hilda and Hershel Rich Family Endowment for Student Community Service supports student engagement with societal issues through a multi-faceted approach. The projects are intended to make a distinctive impact upon society, raise awareness among the Rice community, and foster and encourage leadership and creativity among Rice students. One of the projects supported by the Rich Family Endowment is Communities in Motion, a multi-media project in collaboration with Dr. Yehuda Sharim, an artist and scholar from Rice University, and the Firestarter Group, a nonprofit organization based in Houston. 

Communities in Motion explores the experiences of Houston refugees as they navigate a new space, find value in new communities, and cope with traumas of their past.  By examining personal narratives alongside community support mechanisms, Communities in Motion highlights the negotiation between complex needs of individuals and the common vision of a community. The project asks how can we share a common space in the midst of unprecedented cultural flux and, most importantly, what bridges are being built to effectively connect individuals and communities.

To gain insight into the community support mechanisms created to accept newly arrived refugees, Dr. Sharim is conducting a wide scale survey of local resettlement agencies, nonprofit organization, and community leadership.  In parallel, individual narratives of refugees are being captured on film, tentatively titled Portraits of Displacement, to depict the experience of various refugee communities arriving at different times from across the world.

Recent Rice grad Kelsey Walker develops METRO model for Certificate in Civic Leadership

Aug. 11, 2015

Kelsey Walker, who graduated from Rice in May with a degree in mathematical economics, worked with METRO to develop a model to forecast weekend ridership for the organization’s new bus network, as part of the Center for Civic Leadership’s (CCL) Certificate in Civic Leadership program.

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CCL partners with the Rather Prize Foundation, Greenlights, and SXSWedu to inspire innovative ideas for Texas education

Aug. 10, 2015

The Rather Prize, which launched today, was created in partnership with Dan Rather and his grandson Martin Rather, the Center for Civic Leadership, Austin-based Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, and SXSWedu. 

An incoming Rice University freshman, Martin Rather grew up in New York, but is invested in the future of Texas public education. Concerned about Texas public school rankings and the current quality of education in the state where his grandfather attended school, Martin came up with the idea for an award that would recognize original and innovative ideas to improve public education.

Texas-based current and retired teachers, administrators, and students are eligible to apply. Ten finalists will be chosen, with their ideas featured on the Rather Prize website. The winner, selected based on the recommendations of the CCL and an advisory board, as well as community and social media response, will receive $10,000 and the chance to attend and present at the annual SXSWedu Conference in Austin, Texas, with all travel expenses paid.

The CCL will play an integral role in the Rather Prize by helping to recommend a winner, and by providing a team of Rice students who will propose a plan for implementing the winner's idea. Dr. Caroline Quenemoen, Executive Director of the CCL, is a member of the Rather Prize advisory board.

“The Rather Prize was created to empower those who are committed to improving Texas education by giving them a platform and a path for discussion and implementation of their innovative ideas,” said Martin.

The Rather Prize is open for submissions today, and closes January 31, 2016. The winner will be announced February 15, 2016, and will be invited to attend the SXSWedu Conference in March 2016. The $10,000 prize money can be used for any educational purpose.

More press coverage about the Rather Prize can be found herehere and here, and more information about the Prize and the submission process can be found at www.ratherprize.org.

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Global FoodBanking Network Features Rice Service Trip

July 23, 2015

"This summer a group of US college students traveled to Bulgaria to help the Bulgarian Food Bank (BFB) with their bi-annual food drive. This service trip was a “first” for GFN, a success for BFB, and a meaningful experience for the nine Rice University students who rolled up their sleeves and opened their hearts to help BFB feed hungry people in Bulgaria."

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LRME Common Interest Cohorts 2015

June 22, 2015

Check out the LRME Common Interest Cohorts 2015 pagesIn each city the LRME students are learning about an issue and how it affects the community they are in while writing a blog about their activities and experiences.

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HART Findings Included in Parks Department Master Plan Presentation

June 22, 2015

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s Master Plan Presentation on June 22, 2015 included a presentation by Dr. Robert Stein on survey results and findings by Rice University students as part of a Houston Action Research Team (HART) project. This HART project was part of a collaborative effort between Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.   

The Parks HART team, composed of Sally Hodges-Copple, Tanvi Sharma, Lucy Matveeva, and Emily Jacobson, analyzed the park improvement priorities of underrepresented Houston communities, by conducting 403 face-to-face interviews using a self-designed survey.  The team targeted parks users that were previously under-surveyed by focusing on 18 different parks in the Houston area.  The team found that these park users primary concern is clean-up and repair of parks as opposed to previous findings which supported connectivity.  Additionally, the findings suggest that there may be a park quality “threshold” that must be met before users will show preference for bike and pedestrian connectivity.   

The Parks Master Plan Presentation was held in Brown Auditorium of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and other speakers at the event included representatives from the Trust for Public Land and Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

The Parks Master Plan is updated based on public recommendations, data analysis, and collaboration with other city departments and partners.

More information about the Parks Master Plan can be found here.

For more about the HART program, visit the HART page.


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Traveling with Zeff Fellow Sabrina Toppa

June 3, 2015

Sabrina Toppa ('13) spent a year interviewing migrant taxi drivers in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia on Rice’s Zeff Fellowship. Now she’s steering that experience toward a career in journalism. Her words and images appear in the Spring 2015 issue of Rice Magazine.

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GIS Trip to Bulgaria!

June 2, 2015

Check out the students' blog to learn more about the Summer 2015 Bulgaria Food Drive project. The Global Food Banking Network, an NGO that alleviates hunger by developing food banks worldwide, is working with a group of Rice University students in Bulgaria this summer.

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Prizes and awards to degree recipients

May 20, 2015

Rice undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates reaped a number of fellowships, scholarships and awards this year. 

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Cortez honored with Powell Commencement Award for Leadership

May 16, 2015

For as long as he can remember, Daniel Cortez has been interested in public service. This weekend, he was honored with the 2015 Gen. Colin Powell Commencement Award for Leadership.

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Two Rice University students awarded Watson Fellowships

March 27, 2015

Two seniors from Rice University have been awarded a 2015 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. This highly competitive award will provide $30,000 each to Zach Bielak and Lydia Smith for a year of international travel to do research projects after they graduate from Rice. 

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Rice senior named Luce Scholar

March 19, 2015

Lovett College senior Nick Thorpe is one of 18 Luce Scholars for 2015-2016. He was nominated by Rice and chosen for the nationally competitive fellowship program from 156 nominees who have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability and potential for professional accomplishments.

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Rice students attend Global FoodBanking Network reception

March 18, 2015

Rice University Center for Civic Leadership students attended a reception hosted by the Global FoodBanking Network at Asia Society Texas Center March 18.

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Rice students participate in Alternative Spring Break

March 16, 2015

Approximately 210 Rice University students, faculty and staff spent their spring break giving back to the community through Rice’s Alternative Spring Break program, which places teams of students in communities around the continental United States to engage in direct community service and experiential learning.

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Rice recognized with civic engagement award in Washington


Rice University is one of five universities honored with a 2014 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award Sept. 29 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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Rice Students Win Flood Policy Contest For Multi-Home Buyout Idea


"Since Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast about six months ago, officials in the Houston area have been pursuing ways to remove houses from flood-prone areas. But how do you buy out homes without splitting up communities? A team of Rice University students sought to answer that question in a recent flood policy contest. The judges said they might be onto something. In the contest, students looked for ways to deal with the repeated flooding that’s devastated Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood. Connor Rothschild and his teammate Sapna Suresh won for their idea to give more money to neighbors if their homes are bought out together."

Read the full post at Houston Public Media here.