By Nicole Nettleton '12
Issue 19 | Spring/Summer 2010
More than 12 years ago, members of the Bethel community and the Frogtown/Summit-University (FSU) community embarked on a journey together to create a mutually beneficial relationship that would positively impact the lives of Bethel students and contribute to the FSU community in meaningful and sustainable ways.
Today, the partnership reflects the commitment of the FSU community and Bethel to nurturing our relationship and collaborating in creative ways that benefit students and the community. Sending Bethel students into the community for service-learning opportunities as well as bringing educational opportunities into the community are just two examples of the partnership. Community members welcome Bethel students into a variety of settings and provide wise and thoughtful mentoring. These experiences are an important part of preparing students to be reconcilers and world-changers as emphasized in Bethel’s core values.
Funding for the partnership comes directly from Bethel’s general budget and is primarily used for staffing and general supplies and expenses, says Debra Harless, vice president and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Despite the financial costs involved, the cost of the partnership is small compared to the benefits that result. “Bethel benefits because of the rich experiences our students have in very diverse community settings and from the mentoring of our students by community members,” says Harless.
In 1998 Bethel helped establish the King Family Foundation Childhood Development Center, which provides area children with quality, Christ-centered care and education. Bethel students majoring in education receive community-based experiential learning, enhancing their ability to be strong, culturally responsive teachers.
“Donors’ contributions have been crucial to our ability to provide children with the equipment and tools they need for success,” says Talaya Tolefree, a Bethel graduate and director of the center. “Bethel University’s monetary contributions have allowed the King Child Development Center to continue to operate a high-quality program for both children in the FSU community and Bethel students participating through service learning.”