College of Education-based ‘UNM Service Corps’ strengthens neighborhoods, lives
By Greg Johnston
Moneka Stevens has lived all her life in Albuquerque’s South Broadway neighborhood, where she says she was “raised by the community.”
Stevens directs an after-school program at Dennis Chavez rec center. Photo by Greg Johnston.
At the start of high school in 1997, she became a youth leadership participant. During her senior year at Albuquerque High, she joined the UNM Service Corps to broaden her interest in public service and community learning. College was not much of a consideration when she graduated because she felt unprepared.
Along came Cody Altringer, a friend from the UNM Service Corps.
Altringer “dragged” her off to UNM, she said, and walked her through the admissions process. Stevens enrolled and custom-tailored a curriculum with an emphasis on youth and community development, the first of its kind at UNM. Stevens will graduate in December with a bachelor’s in literacy/after-school programs.
As a result of the experience, Altringer changed his major from international business to education.
Stevens and Altringer are two of nearly 300 graduate and undergraduate students, representing 34 majors, who have joined the UNM Service Corps. Students work at 10 local sites, primarily in low-income neighborhoods. The project provides a setting for homeless children to study and participate in events.
The UNM Service Corps was founded in 1997 with a grant from Save the Children/USA. Current funding is from the 21st Century Learning Communities program at the U.S Department of Education, City of Albuquerque, and America Reads Work Study positions.
Service Corps members are paid and after 900 hours of community service also receive a tuition stipend. The Service Corps is housed at The Office of Community Learning and Public Service at the College of Education. Michael Morris is the director. “Our goal is to develop the next generation of community leaders,” he said.