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May 16, 2008
Contact: Andi Witczak, Center for Service Learning, (785) 864-0965.

Center for Service Learning announces winners of Venture Challenge

LAWRENCE — Four student teams each received a $625 award from the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Kansas for their solutions to social challenges facing three Lawrence agencies.

The awards were offered as part of the Center for Service Learning’s inaugural Venture Challenge with funds from the chancellor’s office. The center, directed by Andi Witczak, launched the Venture Challenge earlier this year to encourage students to think and act as social entrepreneurs.

Ryan Casey, an AmeriCorpsVISTA volunteer at the Center for Service Learning, announced the winners in a May 8 program at the Kansas Union. Additionally, the faculty adviser for the winning teams, Leisha DeHart-Davis, assistant professor of public administration, received a $2,000 faculty fellowship.

Thirteen teams competed in the Venture Challenge. Projects were: developing an advertising campaign for the Tenants to Homeowners program; developing a low-cost marketing campaign for the Lawrence Arts Center; creating a storm water monitoring program for the city of Lawrence; and assessing the atmosphere of the lobby at the Lawrence Arts Center.

The student teams, either independently or as part of a class, proposed solutions for their community partner’s challenge. Faculty whose students participated included DeHart-Davis; Carol Ann Carter, professor of art; Andrea Wertzberger, assistant professor of design; and Stacey White, associate professor of architecture and urban planning.

All four winning teams were from DeHart-Davis’ classes.

“My students greatly enjoyed applying their policy analysis and program evaluation knowledge in a real-world environment,” said DeHart-Davis. “They took ownership of their research to produce thoughtful, innovative insight for their clients.”

One of her students, Charles Bryan of Lawrence, agreed.

“My team chose to work with the Lawrence Arts Center to develop a comparative analysis of their marketing strategy to other nationally known arts centers,” said Bryan. “The Venture Challenge was a great opportunity to put into practice the lessons we were learning in Professor DeHart-Davis’ policy analysis and program evaluation class. This was the most compelling team project I’ve worked on since starting the master’s of public adminstration program last year.”

Another student winner, Nicole Lee of Lawrence, said her team chose to work with the Lawrence Arts Center to explore design options for its lobby space.

“It was a great opportunity to apply my background working for nonprofit organizations with my public administration coursework,” said Lee. “Before we began the challenge, I didn’t know any of my teammates or anything about the Lawrence Arts Center, so the challenge provided an opportunity to get to know both parties better. I think it’s really important for students to make connections with community organizations during their academic careers, and the Venture Challenge is a fun way for students to accomplish this.”

Each proposal was evaluated for its innovation, feasibility and sustainability by a committee of the community partners and faculty. The teams received cash awards and their partner community organizations received action plans addressing their challenges.

“These students performed well beyond our expectations, using their varied backgrounds to approach the same challenge from very different angles,” said Witczak. “Taken all together, each of our community partners now possess multiple thoughtful, professional proposals.”

The Center for Service Learning was established in 2005 to create meaningful and experiential learning opportunities for students. Since then, more than 450 students in 30 majors and four graduate programs have been certified in service learning for having an impact on more than 42 community-based organizations and partnering with them for more than 5,725 hours.

The Venture Challenge winners are listed below by hometown, level in school, degree program, parents’ names, high school or previous degrees earned and community partner.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence 66044
Amanda L. Ostreko, doctoral student in educational policy and leadership; master’s degree in education from KU; bachelor’s degree from Northwest Missouri State University; Tenants to Homeowners — Advertising Challenge.

From Lawrence 66047
Michael J. Appleby, senior in public administration, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Lawrence Arts Center — Lobby/Kiosk Challenge.

Jenny Marie Hesseltine, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Central College in Iowa; City of Lawrence Storm Water Monitoring and Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance Monitoring Program Challenge.

From Lawrence 66049
Charles Wayne Bryan, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University; Lawrence Arts Center — Marketing Challenge.

Nicole Marie Lee, nondegree-seeking student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo.; Mercy High School, Omaha, Neb.; Lawrence Arts Center — Lobby/Kiosk Challenge.

Philip A. Rodriguez, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Colorado Christian University; Tenants to Homeowners — Advertising Challenge.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Fairway 66205
Nicholas John Shigouri, master’s degree student in public administration; son of John and Deborah Shigouri; bachelor’s degree from KU; Shawnee Mission East High School; Lawrence Arts Center — Lobby/Kiosk Challenge.

From Lenexa 66219
Dustin Michael Swartz, senior in economics and in public administration, son of Julie Swartz; Olathe East High School; Lawrence Arts Center — Lobby/Kiosk Challenge.

SALINE COUNTY
From Salina 67401
Matthew Edward McGinley, senior in public administration, son of Mary McGinley; Salina High School South; Lawrence Arts Center — Lobby/Kiosk Challenge.

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka 66614
Jonathan Marc Fisk, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Morningside College in Iowa; City of Lawrence Storm Water Monitoring and Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance Monitoring Program Challenge.

SUMNER COUNTY
From Belle Plaine 67013
Joshua David Shaw, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee; City of Lawrence Storm Water Monitoring and Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance Monitoring Program Challenge.

ALASKA
From Anchorage 99502
Nolan F. Klouda, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota; Lawrence Arts Center — Marketing Challenge.

FLORIDA
From Palm Harbor 34683
Jared Butler Cobb, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Florida State University; City of Lawrence Storm Water Monitoring and Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance Monitoring Program Challenge.

ILLINOIS
From Arlington Heights 60005
Gregory Robert Stopka, master’s degree student in public administration; bachelor’s degree from Augustana College in Illinois; Lawrence Arts Center — Marketing Challenge.

NEBRASKA
From Omaha 68127
Meghan N. Hemenway, master’s degree student in public administration, daughter of Dan and Nancy Brune; two bachelor’s degrees from KU; Westside High School, Omaha, Neb.; Lawrence Arts Center — Marketing Challenge.

NEW YORK
From New York 10016
Di Gong, master’s degree student in public administration, son of Tingrong Gong; two bachelor’s degrees from KU; West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, South Princeton Junction, N.J.; Tenants to Homeowners — Advertising Challenge.

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