Center for Leadership and Volunteerism Receives Award from Communities In Schools of Central Georgia

Statue of Jesse Mercer on the Mercer campus.

MACON – Mercer University's Center for Leadership and Volunteerism (CLV) recently received “A Shining Star” from Communities In Schools (CIS) of Central Georgia recognizing the Center's support of the local school system.

The award, which was presented for the first time last year, is given to an individual, school or organization that has demonstrated exceptional dedication and outstanding support of volunteerism in Bibb County Schools.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, the CLV placed 209 students in Bibb schools, and those volunteers performed 8,925 hours of work for a total labor value of $201,258, according to Hannah Vann, coordinator of community engagement at Mercer.

“I am so proud of our Mercer students for their continued commitment to supporting public school students in Bibb County. Our tutors and volunteers love working with these students,” said Vann.

“We have great partnerships with Bibb County Schools, and we are especially grateful to Taryn Collinsworth, executive director at CIS, as well as the CIS site coordinators for working so hard to ensure that our volunteers at CIS schools have a meaningful, rewarding experience. Their staff does a tremendous job of supporting their students and their volunteers, which is a very challenging balance to achieve. We're very proud to partner with such an important and effective organization, and we're looking forward to continuing to work together in the future.”

The CLV coordinates two tutoring programs at Mercer – America Reads/America Counts (ARAC) and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).

ARAC is a federal program that provides work-study funding to college students so that they can make long-term, impactful commitments to tutoring elementary and middle school students. Over the past year, Mercer students participating in this program have provided tutoring in math and reading at Ingram-Pye Elementary, Riley Elementary, Ballard Hudson Middle, Miller Middle and the Academy for Classical Education.

AVID is a tutoring program that the CLV coordinates in conjunction with Mercer's Office of Service Learning, led by Dr. Mary Alice Morgan. Each semester, up to 100 Mercer students work with the Bibb County Schools GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) initiative to tutor Central High, Northeast High and Southwest High students according to a specific methodology that incorporates research-based strategies and curriculum. AVID is a seven-year partnership that will run through 2018.

Additionally, this year, the CLV began partnering with CIS to identify service projects to be completed by teams of Mercer students and local high school students. This partnership was facilitated by Austin Harrison, a rising senior at the University and a board member with CIS. Projects have included painting chairs at Central High for a school fundraiser, building planters at Hutchings Career Academy and painting a mural at Rutland High.

The mission of CIS of Central Georgia is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. The nation's leading dropout prevention organization, CIS connects resources from public and private sectors with at-risk students and utilizes the power of partnerships to serve students, schools and communities. For more information, visit

The CLV is a clearinghouse for service and community engagement opportunities for Mercer students and hosts events throughout the academic year. Students perform a variety of volunteer work in the community, including monthly service projects called Service Saturdays, the annual Be a Good NeighBEAR community cleanup and the Spring Break for Service program. For more information, visit