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Two schools earn Team Works community service award

George Washington and the Academy of Art honored for their community service efforts

Student-athletes at George Washington University and the Academy of Art University have earned the NCAA Team Works Community Service Competition award for their community outreach efforts.

NCAA Team Works, which coordinates community service efforts at NCAA championships, and Helper Helper, a volunteer management and tracking platform, launched the community service competition to recognize student-athletes who give back to their communities.  The competition is conducted during the fall term and the winning schools are selected based on the number of service hours and participating college athletes. 

“Connecting student-athletes and member schools to their communities highlights the impact of leadership, collaboration and dedication in college sports and cities across the country,” said Victor Hill, NCAA associate director of championships and community programs. “NCAA Team Works is proud to recognize the difference student-athletes make beyond the classroom and competition, while also supporting the student-athlete experience and celebrating their success in life through service projects and community engagement.”

Student-athletes at George Washington in Washington, D.C., took first-place honors in the Division I category and overall contest. The Colonials tallied more than 4,800 service hours by participating in more than 350 community outreach events during the competition. 

“George Washington student-athletes aspire toward a triad of components to become champions in their lives," said Patrick Nero, George Washington’s director of athletics and recreation.  “Not only do they seek to achieve at the highest levels both in competition and in the classroom, but winning the competition is evidence of their tireless work to be champions in the community. We are extremely proud of this recognition, but we're even prouder of our outstanding student-athletes who view it as their responsibility to make their community a better place."

The Colonials participated in a variety of outreach projects, which included tutoring elementary and middle school children, mentoring youth on how to play sports and volunteering at charity walks, food banks and homeless shelters. They also organized a Thanksgiving basket drive, collecting food items to be donated to families in need, and organized a coat and blanket drive for the homeless. Also, the George Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Committee raised money for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Our service projects allow us to give back to a community that has continued to show loyalty and dedication to our athletics department for several years," said George Washington gymnastics student-athlete Taylor Redmond. "We are forever grateful for the support that we have received and we will continue to give back to help serve those in need. We have truly made an impact and a difference and it will always be a focus of ours, long after we leave GW."

Student-athletes at the Academy of Art in San Francisco earned first place in the Division II category.  They participated in more than 50 events and totaled more than 1,800 hours of community service.

"Community service and engagement have always been a priority at our university and with our athletic department," said Colin Preston, Academy of Art’s director of athletics.  "Being awarded the top Division II athletic department in the competition is a great honor, however, the real winners are the community members we assisted this semester. The amount of extra positive feedback and appreciation we have received this semester is due to the NCAA and Helper Helper working together. It is making a difference in our world."

One of the primary activities for the Academy of Art student-athletes was volunteering at Redding Elementary School. They taught and interacted with the students on a regular basis. 

"Working with Redding Elementary has been a very fulfilling opportunity," said Academy of Art women's basketball guard Jasmin Guinn.  "We were able to work within a community of children who come from a variety of backgrounds and be role models to them. It was amazing to see how much they looked up to us and how they looked forward to seeing us every week.”

Academy of Art student-athletes also spent time with youth at local sports festivals; volunteered with set-up activities and helped sell clothing items at a memorial tournament in honor of a youth who recently died; and volunteered their time at a youth and family relay race benefiting an organization that provides meals to critically ill individuals.  They also helped their university housing department with new student “Move-In Day.” Coaches also joined the student-athletes, participating in leadership, art and food bank programs.

Student-athletes at George Washington and the Academy of Art had a 91 percent participation rate and provided more than 6,800 hours in service between the two schools.  The NCAA will honor the student-athletes later this month on their respective campuses.

Rounding out the top five schools in the Division I competition were Manhattan College, Xavier University, the University of Louisville and Florida International University.  Division II finalists included Fayetteville State University, Regis University (Colorado), Emporia State University and Barry University.  Overall, with Divisions I and II combined, George Washington finished first, Manhattan College second, the Academy of Art third, Xavier fourth and Fayetteville State fifth.

For more information on NCAA Team Works, visit www.ncaa.com/teamworks.