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Nipissing University launches $1.3 million service-learning program

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September 21, 2005

Source: Nipissing University:

Nipissing University launches $1.3 million service-learning program

North Bay, ON, September 21, 2005 — Nipissing University today unveiled details regarding a unique new $1.3 million program that will see the university partnering closely with community groups.

The program is partially funded by The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, which launched its National University-Based Community Service-Learning Program in September 2004. Nipissing University’s proposal was successful in the extremely competitive process and the university was provided $800,000. Nipissing University will provide an additional $570,000. The funding will account for the first five years of the project, after that the university will provide the funding, which is estimated to cost about $300,000 per year.

The program, named Biidaaban, is part of a new wave in education known as community service-learning. Biidaaban, in the Nipissing dialect of the Ojibwe, roughly translates to mean ‘dawn’, that point when the sun is rising and a new day beginning.

Service-learning entails students using the skills and theory they acquire in class and applying them in a community based setting. By providing students with the opportunity to connect real-life experience to more theoretical classroom study, service learning effectively develops their individual values, sense of social responsibility and leadership skills. Community groups participating, benefit from the resources, energy and intellect of university students.

The university has already begun building infrastructure for the program and developing working relationships with community and Aboriginal groups. The university and the Aboriginal and community groups will be full partners in the project, with each party deeply involved in the planning process and setting clearly defined goals for both the student learning and the resulting benefit to the community. Ultimately, the vision for Biidaaban is for service-learning to be a cornerstone of the Nipissing University experience, involving students in all academic disciplines, specific service-learning courses and a service-learning minor in Nipissing’s bachelor degrees.

Biidaaban will begin this year as a component of the faculty of education’s Special Education/Educational Psychology course. Students will work as tutors to improve the numeracy and literacy skills of youth.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter in strengthening the relationship between Nipissing University and our community,” said university president, Dr. Dennis Mock. “Our students are going to be deeply involved in working with youth and with the community groups. This is a very positive program, a win-win situation for all concerned. Our goal at Nipissing is to develop future leaders. By increasing our students’ sense of civic responsibility and social justice, we’re developing those community leadership characteristics.”

“Here at Nbisiing Secondary School, we are very excited about the benefits Biidaaban will bring to our school and the youth in our community,” said Chris Huchkowski, principal of Nbisiing Secondary School. “We appreciate Nipissing University’s further commitment to the development and enhancement of services and educational opportunities to Aboriginal students. This project will strengthen the friendship and partnership between our school and Nipissing University.”

“The Foundation supports projects in which all citizens have the opportunity to develop their full potential and contribute to the betterment of their communities and country,” said Tim Brodhead, President and CEO of the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation. “The Biidaaban program clearly promotes social inclusion, community partnerships and engagement. We have every hope that the local community and Nipissing University students will benefit equally from this program.”

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is a private family foundation that funds initiatives of national significance which address challenges for Canadian society by engaging people and by building resilient communities.


For more information please contact:

Bob Pipe, acting communications officer: 474-3450 ext 4528, cell: 705-471-6205

For more information on the J.W McConnell Family Foundation, please visit:



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