Katie Shumway is the Community Learning Lab (CLL) Director within the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois. She began working at the CLL as an hourly employee, and became the Director in June of 2018.
The CLL is housed within the School of Social Work on the University of Illinois campus and is a space for students to experience real-time learning. Katie, along with her team, works with over 300 local not-for-profits, including DSC. Project requests are submitted through an online application, and then the CLL makes matches between the not-for-profit agencies and the students. For example, if DSC submits a project that involves Program Evaluation and there is an upcoming class on Program Evaluation, that could be a potential match.
“One of the benefits for students, is that they learn valuable soft skills that will help them later on in their careers. While participating in a project with a community not-for-profit, they experience the communication dynamics that can occur when working in a real job. For example, when someone doesn’t reply to an email, they learn to address that challenge by following up. Then, when they encounter this again later in life, they can trace it back to their service learning project. It gives them confidence because they have real experience and they know what they’re capable of,” explained Shumway.
The CLL has assisted DSC with several projects in recent years, including matching up interns to work for a semester at DSC, volunteers for the IL Marathon and CU-Oktoberfest, providing speakers for staff training on special topics, such as hoarding, and student-led donation drives to collect pantry and hygiene items for people who receive DSC services.
One thing that Katie would like to continue doing more of in the future is hosting Thank You Workshops, such as the one they are hosted last April for their community partners. “I noticed that there were many requests centered around media and that we could meet a large need by hosting one event and inviting all of our partners here,” said Katie. Mike Yao, Associate Professor of Digital Media was the keynote speaker and it was well attended. The workshops are intended to serve as a way to thank local not-for-profits for the work they do in the community. You can learn more about the Community Learning Lab at http://socialwork.illinois.edu/community-learning-lab-2/