Student organization honored for volunteer service

Contact: Deanne Puca
Seven student members of WMU's Black Student Union standing in front of two banners.

Members of WMU's Black Student Union accept their award at the 11th annual Champs Celebration.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Black Student Union has been recognized for mentoring students in Kalamazoo Public Schools by Communities In Schools Kalamazoo, a branch of the nation's largest organization addressing the dropout crisis.

The registered student organization was honored with the 2018 Champ Award at the 11th annual Champs Celebration May 9, sponsored by Old National Bank and presented by Kalsec. Founded in 1968, the Black Student Union began partnering with CIS three years ago, initiating a men's empowerment group with Mount Zion Baptist Church and a women's empowerment group, both at Kalamazoo Central High School.

"Their passion for serving our students runs deep," says CIS Site Coordinator Deborah Yarbrough of the WMU organization. "By creating a safe place, our students can open up; they feel more connected to themselves and others in the group, and, in turn, feel more connected with school.”

In a few short years, the Black Student Union has grown its volunteer force from one to 12, expanded their programming to meet needs, and reached into Linden Grove Middle School.

"We talk often about giving back, and the students from the Black Student Union are examples of how to give back," adds Kalamazoo Central Principal Valerie Boggan. "KC students look forward to the exchange and appreciate having relationships with students who are able to relate to their life and school experience. The passion they bring to create change and to generate enthusiasm around reading, writing and verbal expressions is phenomenal."

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