Community / News / May 16, 2012

KnoxCorps to link college, city

President Teresa Amott plans to have the KnoxCorps program up and running by the beginning of next year.

Knox College will partner with the Galesburg Community Foundation (GCF) to place Knox students and graduates with nonprofit organizations in Galesburg.

The program will “link the assets of Knox College to need within the community,” Josh Gibb, GCF Executive Director, said.

Recent graduates and undergraduate students will work together, offering both groups “an opportunity … to share what they’re learning and interact with each other … [and] skill building for participants,” Gibb said.

The program will differ from the post-baccalaureate program because participants will work for a community organization, rather than on their own project that may only benefit the college. Amott does not expect the program to have any impact on the post-baccalaureate program, although “some people might choose to combine them,” she said.

Having both undergraduate students and graduates in the program will promote sustainable projects, according to Amott, since undergrads will make a two-year commitment, while graduates will only be there for one year.

The program will start with only four graduates working part-time and six to eight undergrads working eight hours a week.

“We want to be modest and not make the project too costly that we can’t pull it off,” Amott said. They hope the program will be successful and attract more funding in order to expand in future years.

The program is currently funded by a combination of private donors, college funds and grants from the GCF.

Program participants will be selected by an application that they hope to make available by the end of the week. Applications will be reviewed by the GCF as well as representatives from Knox.

Director of the Center for Midwestern Initiatives Gary Funk, who will administer the KnoxCorps program, hopes to have a “quick turn around” on applications, in order to allow graduating seniors to make plans.

“This is going to be a selective process,” Amott said. They have already received close to 15 inquiries about the program.

Organizations will be selected in a similar manner, but with a more “fluid selection process, to put the right student with the right organization,” Gibb said.

The GCF has connections to many community organizations through their Certificate of Non-Profit Governance program. They focus on the areas of health care, education, arts and physical activity.

“I think those are such broad areas that we can use foundation funds in ways that are consistent with their mission and with ours,” Amott said.

It is the missions of both the GCF and the college that brought them together in the first place.

“It’s driven not solely with the accident of place, but similarity of missions,” Amott said.

The program fits with Knox’s mission as a liberal arts college to prepare students to be community citizens and “provide opportunities for lifelong civic achievement,” Amott said.

“They’re some details that are not yet worked out,” she said, but “we’re committed to doing this.”

Even some students not planning on applying think it will be beneficial to the college and community.

“I think this is a good way to impact Galesburg; while we’re here we might as well make a difference,” junior Natalee Young said. “For the grads it’s a good fallback.”

Senior Katie Lilly, however, worried about the economic impact of giving employment to Knox grads who could get jobs elsewhere.

“I have to worry, with the large unemployment rate in Galesburg …” she said. “It seems kind of counterproductive for the city.”

Others think the program could be valuable to the college and community alike, including sophomore Stephanie Schudel.

“It’s a good way to get Knox directly involved with the community, … to branch out with more organizations in the community,” she said.

“For students, that are interested it’s a opportunity to be at the very beginning of something that is very unique nationally,” Funk said.

Gretchen Walljasper

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