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Coffelt Public Service Award

The Coffelt Public Service Award funds research-based community service projects intended to help both UVA students and youth in the community find meaning by engaging in a mutually beneficial collaboration. Proposed projects should help Charlottesville youth to gain autonomy and discover purpose in their lives. The Coffelt Public Service Award emphasizes both public service and research such that UVA students and non-profit partners learn from each other as they plan and execute annual projects to benefit children in any of the following categories: at-risk or ill children, children who do not have the benefit of stable households, or children whose families live in depressed socioeconomic circumstances in the Charlottesville-area community. While there is no specific age restriction on the children served, proposed projects should focus on younger children in the Charlottesville community. Projects may also involve youth who are not at-risk or otherwise disadvantaged. An example may be involving a teenager in mentoring an at-risk elementary school student. Award recipients should identify a faculty research mentor and an organizational partner (UVA or community-based). The award will offer support for up to one year, and can be split between direct stipend and expendable funds for the project. For example, if the available award is $2,000, then $300 could be distributed as a stipend and $1,700 be set aside for expendable costs. The number of awards given and the exact amount disbursed will depend upon the number and quality of applications and the budgets of the proposed projects. 2017 submission due date TBA.

About the Award

This award was established by UVa College alumnus Robert M. Coffelt, Jr. in honor of his mother, Annetta J. Coffelt and his father, Robert M. Coffelt.  Having grown personally as a member of the Alpha Phi Omega (A.P.O.) community service fraternity and the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, and through his previous work on a U.Va. psychiatric ward, Mr. Coffelt desires to instill in current students the importance of giving of themselves to the community in which they live. In December of 2014, Mr. Coffelt formally asked that OpenGrounds hold an annual competition for the Service Award. Through conversations with Founding Director Bill Sherman, Mr. Coffelt recognizes that OpenGrounds offers the ideal network and structure to use the award in a way that will generate significant impact for university students and the communities they serve.

2016 Winners

Jack Thorman, Men’s Leaderships Project

 The Men’s Leaderships Project intends to develop leadership skills and healthy conceptions of masculinity among UVA undergraduate men and young teenagers through education and mentoring. What’s more, MLP intends to promote gender violence prevention through early promotion of social and culturally based conceptions of masculinity. MLP, as such, is unique in that it promotes positive change in both the boys whom the undergraduate men mentor and the mentors themselves. To this end, the undergraduate men learn techniques to mentor adolescent boys, and explore various themes of masculinity and gender identity as they relate to health, violence, the media, race and ethnicity, and emotional wellbeing.

Vicki Hernandez, LADYS Project

The LADYS program intends to engage university students to participate and encourage young women in high school to pursue higher education and mentor the young women’s professional development. The LADYS Program envisions young women well equipped for life post-high school. This may include, transitioning to college or preparing for other post-secondary options such as, starting professional careers, while taking with them the necessary skills to effectively communicate and network amongst peers. The program focuses on college and career preparation, one-on-one mentoring, and workshops. Upon successful completion of high school and the program, active participants are awarded the Sigma Lambda LADYS Book Scholarship, a $200 scholarship to assist with the economic demands of higher education.

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