By Carissa Woytech, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer
The research of two United Way of Greater Cleveland employees was recently recognized at a Midwest conference. Hannah Lebovits, manager of knowledge building, and Martina Pace, relationship manager, in conjunction with Cleveland State University professor Joseph Mead, were awarded the “Best Practitioner Paper” at the American Society for Public Administration Public Affairs Conference, June 2-4 in Columbus at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University.
The paper focused on the importance of public universities using service learning in their courses, and created a model for public universities to better utilize students in the policy process.
“If you institute service learning in the classroom, you’re able to fill those gaps where nonprofits may not have the manpower to study a policy or advocate for a certain policy,” Pace said. “You have students who are willing and have time and who are smart and can actually fill in those gaps for those institutions or agencies.”
Tying into United Way’s work, Lebovits thought to align students with agencies, pooling resources and knowledge to combat community issues. This led to Lebovits and Mead applying for a grant through CSU, winning the Faculty Civic Innovation award, which will provide agencies with the funding needed to guide and connect with students.
“This really gave us a chance to insert our voice into the policy process,” Lebovits said. “And because it’s a public university and they have a more diverse student body, we were thinking that more voices could be represented in public policy if more universities did this kind of program.”
Nancy Mendez, director of Community Impact operations, said she values the talent young workers like Lebovits and Pace have brought to United Way of Greater Cleveland.
“This just confirms that we have great, young talent here that’s going to help us be innovative and relevant in the community,” she said.