The Community Center provides several resources intended to civically engage students at various levels. One resource supported by The Community Center that has been useful in reaching a wide audience, meeting “real” community needs, and providing experiential education for students is VolunteerSLO.
VolunteerSLO (www.volunteerslo.org) is a public online database of volunteer opportunities in San Luis Obispo County. In 2010, VolunteerSLO was selected as the only university-sponsored statewide “Hub” as part of the California Volunteer Matching Network. Over 250 agencies are registered on VolunteerSLO, and the website receives over 6,500 unique visitors per year.
VolunteerSLO has helped address one of the challenges faced by many service learning programs which is finding and meeting “real” community needs. Students and faculty often have great ideas and creative ways they would like to provide service to the community, and through VolunteerSLO they can find agencies that are asking for specific services. Local nonprofit agencies post volunteer opportunities on the website making them easily accessible to students, faculty and other community members.
VolunteerSLO has also helped address another challenge faced by Cal Poly and the surrounding community which is access to centralized information. While The Community Center is centrally located and accessible to all students, given the advances in technology and changes in campus culture more students are accessing information online. In addition, San Luis Obispo County is a wide-spread and rural geographical region which makes a “virtual” resource more valuable to community members.
VolunteerSLO is designed, marketed, and managed by students. VolunteerSLO was developed by a Cal Poly student in 2005. Each quarter, a group of students from Cal Poly’s Central Coast PRspectives (CCPR), the on-campus marketing firm, develop and implement a marketing strategy around some aspect of the website. For example, this year the marketing students created an outreach presentation and delivered it to several clubs and organizations. The management of the website is overseen by a graduate student.
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