The Community Fellows Program, made possible by a contribution from Clarion University Foundation, Inc., funded 14 proposals totaling $10,000.
The selection committee reviewed 16 proposals and awarded 14 grants. Committee members were: Bill Moon Jr., Oil City mayor; Dan Parker, Clarion Borough mayor; Jesse Haight, Clarion University associate professor of education; Kyle Vickers, Clarion University – Venango learning skills specialist; and Amy Esterhuizen, Clarion University director of grants and special projects.
Projects and community partners are:
- Mindful Rural Schools, Clarion-Limestone Area School District Elementary School, $800 award. Grant funds supported online training for mindfulness instructor certification. Mindfulness instruction was then provided to selected Clarion-Limestone Area School District 4th and 6th graders. Both the mindfulness instructor and the classroom teacher kept a log of observations and behavior changes. Student participants provided feedback such as "I used the (mental) body scan and was able to fall asleep faster," "I took three deep breaths before a test and felt calmer," and "I took three deep breaths before shooting a foul shot and made both shots."
- Multi-Cultural Community Celebrations, Clarion Area Chamber of Commerce, $800 award. This award supported the payment of honorariums and miscellaneous expenses for two multicultural celebrations, the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration, "Bring the Dream to Life," with 200 attendees, and the Juneteenth Celebration with guest speaker, Reverend Mark Ellison of Christ Episcopal Church in Oil City, with 150 attendees. Project partners included Clarion University's Chapter of the NAACP, BSU, Brothers and Sisters of Christ and the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry.
- Clarion County's Imagination Library Community Connections, United Way of Clarion, $800 award. Clarion University's chapter of Sigmu Tau Delta and the English Club partnered with United Way to forward their literacy efforts (Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program) to provide one book a month to area children, ages birth to 5. The student organizations hosted a registration table and activities at the Come Together Clarion event, promoted the program through social media, and supported the purchase of 1,369 books to distribute to local children.
- Keystone Mission, Corner Church of Clarion, $1,000 award. The Keystone Mission Project packs lunches once per month for self-identified families who need help to feed their children on weekends. Though the need and service are expanding, at the time of the financial request, the lunch costs were $500/month. At this rate, grant funds purchased two months of packed lunches to help fight local childhood hunger.
- Clarion Community Workshop, $800 award. Clarion Community Workshop is a community-based, university partnership that provides a variety of educational workshops and activities, including ongoing tutoring, homework help and GED support. The workshop utilizes Clarion University faculty and students across all disciplines to provide educational support to the broader community. Many of the student tutors are volunteers, but students with broader responsibilities are employed by the workshop. This grant paid stipends for student workers during the academic year.
- University Trail Signage, North Country Trail (Clarion Chapter), $450 award. This project purchased and installed interpretative signage for the new, three-mile North Country Trail, which is located on Clarion University Foundation, Inc., property, behind the north side of the university's Suites on Main. Clarion University students researched the content of the interpretive signage, which includes a sign each for GS mapping, historical information and environmental information.
- Walk a Mile in Her Shoes – 2017, Passages, Inc., $800 award. Walk a Mile in her Shoes is the community's annual sexual assault prevention event, coordinated in conjunction with Clarion University's Women and Gender Studies program and held at the university. Funds offset the national registration fee, promotion materials, red shoes (event props) and guest speaker costs.
- Early Childhood Education Creative Arts Collaboration, Clarion Area Elementary School, $800 award. Clarion University's ECH 235 Creative Arts students taught eight station-type lessons to Clarion Area Elementary 4th grade students. Lessons included creative movement, dance, art, reading, team-building and more. The culmination of the project is a one-year display of the 4th graders' art in Stevens Hall. Grant funds purchased art supplies.
- Collaboration and Creation of Community-based Nature Experiences, Foxburg Tours, $550 award. This collaborative effort between Foxburg Tours and Clarion University science faculty and students showcased different aspects of the Foxburg region and outlying areas. Efforts included sharing expertise, displays, and providing tours and nature-based symposiums.
- 2018 Clarion University Service Summit, Clarion Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, $700 award. Clarion University's Advisory Board of Leadership and Engagement expanded its annual University Service Summit to include local civic organizations. Grant funds supported their collaborative blanket-tying effort. Area foster care children and elderly in nursing homes receive the blankets.
- Salsa Day at Clarion University, Punxsutawney Area High School, $450 award. The grant supported Clarion Unversity Department of English and Modern Languages in providing a cultural event for area high schools, including Punxsutawney Area High School. The Salsa Day activities cultivate an enthusiasm for studying Spanish. Activities included games, dance instruction, dance performance, and a Clarion campus tour with lunch.
- OCMS/OCHS Pantry, Oil City Middle School, $750 award. Hunger in America statistics reflect that 2,370 children within Venango County are food insecure. Grant funds, along with local donations totaling $10,000, built and piloted the Oil City Middle and High School Pantry. Access to the pantry helps address the negative impact of hunger on learning. The pantry allows students in need to "shop," free, for food and nonfood items (clothing, personal supplies). During last academic year, the pantry served more than 130 families, and middle school student visits averaged over 200 per month. Pantry sustainability is attainable through community and Second Harvest fundraising activities.
- The Poetry of Inclusion, The Clarion Arts Council, $600 award. The grant funds provided stipends for featured professional poets at a local poetry festival entitled "The Poetry of Inclusion" and held at Michelle's Café in Clarion. The festival affirmed and celebrated the sharing of poetry by both professional and local poets.
- Temporal Attenuation of Abandoned Mine Drainage, Mill Creek Coalition, $700 award. Clarion County has the highest concentration of abandoned mine drainage water quality pollution in the state. The grant allowed Clarion University Biology and Geosciences Department and students to work with the Mill Creek Coalition to collect abandoned mind drainage water samples for complete analysis. Ongoing data collection and electronic organization of sample findings is valuable in planning future restoration efforts within the Millcreek Watershed.