SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -Wittenberg University's hometown of Springfield, Ohio, has been named one of the 30 finalists in this year's All-America City Award, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious civic recognition programs.
The All-America City Award, a program of the National Civic League, encourages and recognizes civic excellence, honoring communities (neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties and regions) in which community members, government, businesses and non-profit organizations demonstrate successful resolution of critical community issues.
"This is a magnificent recognition of how far Springfield has come," said Mayor Warren Copeland, professor of religion and the director of urban studies at Wittenberg, "We are now recognized as an innovative city that has our act together and looks forward to the future."
Recognizing the numerous hands-on learning experiences Springfield offers, Wittenberg students have consistently given back to their community. From interning at Springfield's diverse array of business, philanthropic and educational organizations to volunteering countless hours at area schools, shelters, city government offices and arts programs, Wittenberg students have discovered the difference service makes in their community and in their own lives.
Shannon Meadows, a 1999 graduate of Wittenberg and now the executive assistant to the Springfield city manager, returned to Springfield following graduate school because of her experience interning for the city.
"Springfield is a microcosm of the world whether you see while you're here or later in life," Meadows said. "The city provided a great opportunity for me as an intern; it's big enough to have big city issues and opportunities, but small enough to get your hands around."
To see the area's businesses, government offices, schools and volunteer organizations "coming together to address the issues of the people who live, work and play here is what the All-America City Award is all about," Meadows added. "The opportunity to work here is absolutely priceless."
Wittenberg also maintains a close relationship with the Springfield City Schools, where more than 10 percent of Wittenberg graduates currently teach or work. In addition, the university recently established the Springfield-Wittenberg Teacher Institute, which assists eight targeted schools in the Springfield City School District in dealing with problems unique to urban teaching environments.
"The collaborative partnerships developed between Wittenberg's department of education and the Springfield City Schools, including assigning teacher candidates in our education program to area classrooms, are very important to both entities," said Jeannine Fox, assistant professor of education and director of Wittenberg's new master of arts in education program. "Such partnerships promote the continuous improvement of teaching and learning in the schools."
The 30 finalists will participate in a final round of the All-America City competition in Washington, D.C., June 12-14. A delegation from each finalist community will present to a 10-member jury their innovative programs and local solutions addressing a wide range of social and community issues, including outreach to citizens in low-income neighborhoods, dealing with adult literacy and English as a second language education, and focusing on children's health care in low-income communities.
The 10 All-America Cities for 2003 will then be named on June 14 during a special ceremony at the Hilton Washington & Towers.
Since 1949, more than 4,000 communities have competed in the All-American City Award competition, and nearly 500 have been named "All-America Cities."
For a complete list of this year's 30 finalist communities, log on to The National Civic League Web site at www.ncl.org.
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