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The Pray Family Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement at Raritan Valley Community College has earned national recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

RVCC is one of 40 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement. The announcement was made by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

This important classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee. A listing of all the institutions that currently hold the classification endorsement can be found here.

“We recognize these institutions for their exceptional commitment to community engagement, and their work to transform knowledge into meaningful action,” said Timothy Knowles, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “They exemplify the true spirit of the Carnegie endorsement and the power of serving the public good.”

“Raritan Valley Community College is honored to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation. The classification highlights RVCC’s ongoing commitment to service learning and giving back to the community,” said RVCC President Dr. Michael J. McDonough. “As the College continues to foster meaningful partnerships with local organizations, our students are increasingly involved in addressing and solving community challenges. Service to the community also offers students valuable experience and helps them develop a lifelong commitment to good citizenship.”

Of the 40 institutions classified in the 2024 cycle, 18 are receiving the classification for the first time while 22 are now re-classified after being classified originally in 2015 or 2020. They join the 350 institutions that earned classification in either 2015 or 2020, for a total of 368 campuses that are active holders of this important designation. Among the 2024 recipients of the classification, 25 are public institutions and 15 are private. RVCC is one of only three community colleges, and the only college in New Jersey, receiving this classification in 2024.

RVCC first received the Community Engagement Classification in 2008 and was reclassified in 2015. In order to receive the 2024 classification, the College had to demonstrate that its service learning and community engagement initiatives had grown and improved since the last classification.

RVCC students now serve more than 250 organizations in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. Participation in service learning is tied to academic coursework and organized service through various community engagement activities. Ranging from non-profits, to schools, to government agencies, these community organizations include pre-K-12 schools; ESL programs; after-school centers; nursing homes; adult day care centers; food banks; environmental agencies; courthouses; probation departments; youth correctional facilities; and homeless, domestic violence and animal shelters.

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 19 years, with classification cycles in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2020, and now 2024.

The Carnegie Foundation’s classification follows a recent exceptional financial donation from Don and Penny Pray through the RVCC Foundation that will benefit students in their efforts to give back to the local community. The couple’s five-year commitment of $150,000 is being used to create greater recognition and exposure for the achievements and impact of students participating in programs offered through The Pray Family Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement.

About the Carnegie Classifications 

The Carnegie Classifications are the nation’s leading framework for categorizing and describing colleges and universities in the United States. Utilized frequently by policymakers, funders, and researchers, the classifications are a critical benchmarking tool for postsecondary institutions. ACE and the Carnegie Foundation announced a partnership in February 2022 to reimagine the classifications to better reflect the diversity of post-secondary institutions and more completely characterize the impact that today’s institutions have in society.

About ACE 

ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. ACE is the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, and our strength lies in our diverse membership of more than 1,600 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in America and abroad. ACE is the only major higher education association to represent all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities. For more information, please visit www.acenet.edu or follow ACE on X (formerly known as Twitter) @ACEducation.

About the Carnegie Foundation

The mission of the Carnegie Foundation is to catalyze transformational change in education so that every student has the opportunity to live a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life. Enacted by an act of Congress in 1906, the Foundation has a rich history of driving transformational change in the education sector, including the establishment of TIAA-CREF and the creation of the Education Testing Service, the GRE, and the Carnegie Classifications for Higher Education. The Foundation was also instrumental in the formation of the U.S. Department of Education and Pell Grants, and most recently in the use of networked improvement science to redress systemic inequities in educational opportunities and outcomes.

About RVCC

Ranked by WalletHub.com and Intelligent.com as the #1 community college in New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 50 years. The College has been nationally recognized for its service to the community, environmental stewardship, and commitment to diversity. It is home to  a PlanetariumScience Education Institute, and 3M Observatory; a Theatre offering professional performances for all ages; and an Honors College for high achieving students.

The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training and professional development coursesRVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.