By 1812Blockhouse

In an inspiring display of community collaboration, The Ohio State University at Mansfield, Mansfield City Schools, and the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library have joined forces to launch a unique program that blends education with community service. The ‘Give Back Go Forward’ initiative offers Ohioans aged 60 and above a chance to earn free college tuition through volunteer work. This partnership not only promotes lifelong learning but also encourages active aging and community engagement.

The mechanics of the program are straightforward yet impactful. Participants enrolled in the ‘Give Back Go Forward’ program need to complete 100 hours of community service within a year at designated nonprofits. In return, they receive a voucher for three free undergraduate credit hours at The Ohio State University. This initiative, originally active on the Columbus campus, has now found its way to the Mansfield regional campus, marking a significant expansion of its reach and potential impact.

Volunteers have the flexibility to choose where to invest their time and skills. Mansfield City Schools has opened doors at Sherman and Woodland Elementary Schools, offering distinct programs focusing on literacy and educational support. At Woodland Elementary, the Volunteer Tutoring Program allows volunteers to work closely with young students, particularly emphasizing reading, spelling, and writing. Similarly, Sherman Elementary’s Project MORE (Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence) focuses on mentoring first and second graders through structured reading lessons. The involvement of senior volunteers in these programs not only benefits the students but also creates a unique intergenerational learning environment.

The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library offers another avenue for volunteering through its Adult Literacy Program. This program aims to improve basic literacy skills, fostering a foundation for lifelong learning and better employment opportunities. It represents a crucial component of the initiative, addressing the broader educational needs of the community.

The ‘Give Back Go Forward’ program stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives in addressing educational and social needs. By intertwining the goals of education and community service, it not only provides tangible benefits like free tuition but also fosters a sense of purpose and connection among senior citizens. The program’s expansion to the Mansfield campus is a significant step in recognizing and utilizing the potential of senior citizens as valuable contributors to society.

Contact details:

Woodland Elementary will host the Volunteer Tutoring Program – volunteers work one-on-one with first, second, or third-grade students for at least one 30-minute period weekly between 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. While the emphasis is on reading, tutors also may assist with spelling and writing. For more information, contact program coordinator Lisa Coleman at 419-156-0836 or call the school at 419-525-6325. 

Sherman Elementary will host Project MORE (Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence) – volunteers will mentor first and second-grade students through scripted reading lessons in weekly 30-minute periods. There are available times Tuesday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. For more information, contact Terry Foltz at [email protected] or call the school at 419-525-6337.

The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library’s volunteer opportunities are with their Adult Literacy Program. The Adult Learning Program is to advance basic literacy and other skills in members of our community to build a foundation for lifetime learning; increase employment opportunities, and lead to a better quality of life. To inquire about volunteering with the MRCPL, contact Mary Frankenfield at [email protected] or 419- 521-3100.

Source: OSUM

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